India to start CEPA talks with Bangladesh: PM Narendra Modi | The Financial Express

India to start CEPA talks with Bangladesh: PM Narendra Modi

The CEPA may be finalised by 2026, by the time Bangladesh graduates to become a developing country, said India’s foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra.

India to start CEPA talks with Bangladesh: PM Narendra Modi
Bangladesh is India's largest development partner and our largest trade partner in the region, Modi said. (IE)

India will start talks on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with Bangladesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday after a bilateral meeting with his counterpart Sheikh Hasina here, to boost trade ties between the two neighbouring countries.

The CEPA may be finalised by 2026, by the time Bangladesh graduates to become a developing country, said India’s foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra.

Bangladesh is India’s largest development partner and our largest trade partner in the region, Modi said. Bangladesh is one of India’s top export markets with bilateral trade at about $18 billion in FY22. India had a trade surplus of about $14 billion in FY22.

“We also decided to increase cooperation in sectors like IT, space and nuclear energy. We will also continue to cooperate on climate change,” Modi said after the meeting with Hasina who is on a four-day visit to India.

Recently, Bangladesh has sought loans from global agencies such as the International Monetary Fund as the country’s foreign exchange reserves dwindled due to rising import bills. However, Hasina has said that Bangladesh’s $416 billion economy remained strong.

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India has extended nearly $9.5 billion to Bangladesh in concessional loans and is taking up several connectivity projects, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted. India is currently taking up several connectivity projects between the two countries: Khulna-Darshana railway line project, Parbatipur-Kaunia railway line project and supply of road construction equipment & machinery.

Modi and Hasina jointly unveiled Unit-I of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Project being constructed under India’s concessional financing scheme. The project will add 1,320 MW to Bangladesh’s National Grid. On Monday, both countries signed seven cooperation pacts in areas such as water sharing, railways projects, science and space technology.

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Tuesday’s discussions between Modi and Hasina also focused on security cooperation.

“The discussions between the two leaders have been comprehensive. In this context there is a clear common understanding that the strategic priorities of the relationship of the two countries, interests and concerns of India, and interests and priorities of Bangladesh are all factored in our cooperative matrix of engagement,” foreign secretary Kwatra said.

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