The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is doing its best to project northeast India as a favourable trade and investment destination for Bangladesh capital. More trade investment will bring about social development which has alluded the region for many years now.

“We should highlight the potential synergies of India’s Northeast with Bangladesh. A system of joint ventures (JVs) with buyback arrangements can be developed,” CII said in a recent report.

“Such JVs will stimulate FDI (foreign direct investment) to both Bangladesh and northeast India and thus productively exploit the opportunities of existing complementarities.”

The Leftist state government of Tripura has already made a bid to attract investments from Bangladesh. Bangladesh companies are setting up fruit processing and tyre making units in the state.

India’s former minister for Northeast Mani Shankar Aiyar had in 2009 pitched for opening up the Northeast for ‘large scale investments from Bangladesh’.

The CII northeast council is tying up with various state governments in the remote region to attract domestic and foreign firms. The CII’s northeast chapter has also made several recommendations to the state governments of the region to improve infrastructure, transport, roads and skill development.

The CII feels there needs to be a change in the perception regarding the region, if investment has to flow. “Industrial growth depends on the kind of perception investors have about a region. India’s northeast has been afflicted by insurgency and violence but now things are looking up and there are lots of opportunities because the region is resource rich. That has to be publicised to attract investments,” NK Bharali, chairman of CII northeast chapter said.

The CII is envisaging a commercial network that will link Agartala, Silchar, Imphal and Moreh with Myanmar, so that trade with southeast Asia can be developed through the region.

Bilateral trade with Myanmar could reach $3 billion by 2015. The road ministry is also planning to start a bus service from Moreh in Manipur to Mandalay in Myanmar.

While presenting the budget for this fiscal, Indian finance minister P Chidambaram announced decisive steps under its Look-East policy to enhance economic relations with countries in Southeast Asia.

“Multilateral development banks are keen to assist efforts to promote regional connectivity. Combining the Look-East policy and the interests of the North-eastern states, I propose to seek the assistance of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to build roads in the North-eastern states and connect them to Myanmar,” Chidambaram had said.

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