MCCI holds its 2nd quarterly luncheon meeting of 2023
The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI) organized its second Quarterly Luncheon Meeting of 2023 at its Gulshan office premises on Tuesday.
His Excellency Mr. Pranay Verma, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, attended the event as the Chief Guest.
During the event, MCCI President Mr. Md. Saiful Islam appreciated the bond and friendship shared by the two countries. By working together to improve connectivity and infrastructure, the two countries were complementing and contributing towards development.
He pointed out that the proposed Bangladesh-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) may more than double the bilateral trade in the future. The President appreciated the Indian High Commission’s help in fostering trade between the two countries and mentioned how MCCI shared the same commitment. He concluded his address by proposing to explore innovative solutions that could shape the future of the two countries’ commerce and trade relations.
In his address, the High Commissioner highlighted the transformation in bilateral relations between the two nations under the visionary leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which has led to a significant increase in economic engagement and connectivity linkages between the two countries. He pointed out that in the last five years, bilateral trade has more than doubled, and Bangladesh's exports to India have now crossed USD 2 billion mark for the first time.
High Commissioner Pranay Verma noted that as Bangladesh moves forward to make an important economic graduation to become a developing country in 2026, the negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Bangladesh would create a new institutional framework for leveraging the economic opportunities emanating from the transforming economies of both the countries.
The High Commissioner underlined the significance of improved connectivity and trade infrastructure at the borders for fully harnessing the potential of the bilateral economic partnership, which has been spurred by the rapid growth and development of both countries.
In this context, he emphasized the measures being taken to reduce congestion at the Petrapole–Benapole Integrated Check Post by upgrading cross-border railway infrastructure, as rail-based transportation has a significant impact on economic efficiency and returns. He also highlighted the need to enhance infrastructure at other land ports and suggested increasing the number of land ports without trade restrictions in order to incentivize investments in land ports.
High Commissioner Verma mentioned that the connectivity initiatives aimed at linking Indian states, including those in India’s Northeast, with Bangladesh were intended to reinforce mutual interdependence between the two countries and leverage their shared history, geography, and socio-economic ties. He further stated that given the proximity of Bangladesh with Northeastern States of India, Bangladesh is best placed to benefit from the economic opportunities present in the region.
The High Commissioner invited members of MCCI to come forward to identify synergies that exist and leverage the geographical proximity and the framework of connectivity already in place to further enhance trade & economic engagement between India and Bangladesh.
Other topics that came up during the discussions include the need for diversification to mitigate supply chain risks, facilitation and promotion of service providers besides goods producers, and the establishment of a Working Group between the High Commission and MCCI.
MCCI proposed (i) the introduction of a dual-currency credit card between the two countries, (ii) the free flow of BD Taka and Indian Rupee without any cap in case of bilateral trade regardless of Bangladesh’s export performance, and (iii) the harmonization of the standards of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) with those of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) to promote trade and its ease.
The event ended with a vote of thanks offered by the MCCI Vice-President Mr. Habibullah N. Karim followed by a call to lunch. Among others, representatives from various member firms of MCCI and the media attended the event.