The Financial Express

Non-tariff barriers may be discussed at Indo-Bangladesh talks

Foreign secy to fly to Delhi on Dec 9

| Updated: November 25, 2020 12:55:57

Flags of Bangladesh and India are seen cross-pinned in this photo symbolising friendship between the two nations — Collected Flags of Bangladesh and India are seen cross-pinned in this photo symbolising friendship between the two nations — Collected

Foreign Secretary (FS) Masud Bin Momen is scheduled to visit Delhi on December 9 to join Bangladesh-India FS-level talks, which will mainly focus on the upcoming meeting between the prime ministers of both the countries.

The issue of non-tariff barriers, imposed by India, will also be discussed during the meeting.

"During the meeting, we will discuss the irritants that are impeding our exports," Masud Bin Momen said while commenting on the upcoming meeting with his Indian counterpart Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to have a virtual meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on December 17.

Apart from the common bilateral issues, both the foreign secretaries will chalk out details of the summit-level meeting between the two neighbours.

Several memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have already been drafted for signing during the PM-level meeting, and the secretaries will also discuss these, senior officials told the FE.

Both sides have proposed four or five MoUs. Among those, a deal on the preservation of elephants in border areas tops the list, as both sides have already agreed to it.

Inauguration of a new train service between the two countries on Haldibari-Chilahati route is also expected during the meeting.

The rail-track is already complete, through which trains will transport goods between the northern parts of both the countries.

An MoU for establishing Mujib Museum in some parts of Bangladesh is also under consideration, the officials added.

Mr Momen said several bilateral issues were discussed in the recent India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting.

"Now, we will discuss which of these issues can be put on the agenda of the PM-level meeting. Everybody wants to see some visible outcome of the meeting."

He, however, said Bangladesh and India are now focusing on the issues that are almost finalised.

"There are some challenging issues, (solving of) which may need a long time. But we do not want to leave the easier ones for resolving the difficult ones," he said when asked to comment on the pending issues like signing the Teesta River water deal.

"For example, the air bubble between the two countries has already started, as we do not tag one issue with the others."

"We will not get 'critical mass of the environment' to continue the discussion if we remain stubborn on certain issues. But it does not mean that we are not working on those difficult issues," the Bangladesh FS explained.

As the PM-level meeting will be held on digital platform, there will be some limitations in discussing the details.

"So we are expecting that detailed discussion will be possible during the Indian prime minister's proposed visit to Dhaka in March, he said, hoping that the visit will take place if the pandemic situation improves.

Mr Momen said expediting the implementation of the projects under the Indian line of credit (LoC) is also a concern for both the sides.

The issue was elaborately discussed during the recent JCC meeting, and the countries stressed on gearing up efforts to complete these projects quickly.

"Both sides have problems, as bureaucracy has its own method (of work). There is the banking issue also, where certain steps have to be maintained. But we are concentrating on reducing the complexities," he opined.

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