Shillong, Feb. 5: Meghalaya and Bangladesh today agreed to set up a task force to further trade and commerce with 10 border haats in the pipeline.
Speaking to reporters at Hotel Pinewood here after a business summit, visiting Bangladesh commerce minister Muhammad Faruk Khan said Meghalaya and Bangladesh have jointly agreed to set up a task force to further bilateral trade and commerce.
Outlining the priorities, Khan said energy, food processing and export of minerals are the areas where Meghalaya and Bangladesh would like to further their bilateral trade.
“If bilateral trade with Meghalaya enhances, the benefits will also reach the other regions of the country,” Khan said. Bangladesh would like to improve trade on energy, minerals and food processing, he added. Khan also mooted an idea of setting up a thermal power plant along the India-Bangladesh border where coal from Meghalaya could be utilised.
The minister expressed concern over the fact that it took 15 days to get a health certificate for a product to be imported to India and said Meghalaya has agreed to set up a laboratory in Shillong to speed up procedures.
On border haats, Khan said while two are expected to be inaugurated in the coming month on a pilot basis, 10 more are in the offing in the next six months.
“We expect to inaugurate two border haats by March on a pilot basis and 10 more in the next six months,” he said.
At present, while one haat would be at the border point between Kalaichar in West Garo Hills district and Baliamari of Kurigram district in Bangladesh, the other will be located at the border point between Balat in East Khasi Hills district and Lauwaghar (Dalora) in Bangladesh’s Sunamganj district.
India and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the reopening of border haats on October 24 in New Delhi.
Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma said the task force would be headed by the state chief secretary where it would explore the possibilities of exports, imports and investments in various sectors.
Sangma also said the Centre would be moved to improve all the land customs stations to ensure that they are connected with road and rail network to facilitate better trade and commerce with Bangladesh.
The chief minister also stressed on the need to create more land customs stations along the India-Bangladesh border.