India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan should target US $15 bn trade in three years: Amit Mitra

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 Eastern India’s largest business-to-business (B2B) trade summit – “CWBTA Eastern India Trade Summit – 2019” – was formally inaugurated here today. Addressing the CWBTA Summit via live message in absentia, Dr Amit Mitra, Minister-in-Charge of Excise, Finance, Commerce and Industries, Government of West Bengal, said that India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan should set a 15 percent year-on-year growth target in order to achieve US $15 billion in trade in three years. The current trade volume being US $10.05 billion.

“West Bengal, with largest warehousing facility in the country, is geared up to become a logistical hub of the region. Flipkart is working out a detailed project report for setting up a logistics hub in Kalyani which would generate 10,000 jobs in West Bengal. The state government has also formulated logistics hub policy,” Dr Mitra said.

“Eastern region is a natural zone of commonality for India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan with a 30 cr consumer base. There is a huge growth potential in the region,” Ms Vandana Yadav, MD, WBIDC. The Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations (CWBTA), the largest trade body of eastern India, is organizing the two-day (15 & 16 July 2019) mega Summit in Kolkata to boost regional trade. Of the 500 delegates attending the Summit, 200 are from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Thailand representing various trade bodies and chambers of commerce.

India is focusing on the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) as a part of its Act East and “Neighbourhood First” foreign policy to form regional blocs. Trade representatives from five of the seven BIMSTEC member countries are participating at the CWBTA Eastern India Trade Summit-2019. The Indo-Bangladesh bilateral trade is set to cross US $10 billion. With a combined population base of 40 crores, US $2.7 trillion GDP and one-fourth of world’s traded goods, the regional trade has tremendous potential and can be doubled in the next four to five years.

“Trading is poised for a major leap with huge growth in products and commodities. It is estimated that implementation of a free-trade agreement can help intra-BIMSTEC trade grow up to USD 240 billion from the currently estimated USD 40 billion. West Bengal stands as one of the frontline states to benefit from rapid developments taking place. Kolkata, by virtue of its unique location and strength, can emerge as the trading hub of the region,” said Mr Sushil Poddar, President, and CWBTA.

This is the first time a regional Trade Summit involving the neighbouring countries and Thailand is being organized by CWBTA. This would go a long way to boost regional trade. CWBTA is trying to facilitate and tap the huge trading opportunities that are unfolding in the region,” said Mr Pawan Jajodia, Working President, CWBTA.

The Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FBCCI), Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI), India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI), Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce & Industries, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

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