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India-Bangladesh Relations

  • 25 Aug 2023
  • 8 min read

Source: PIB

Why in News?

The 14th Joint Group of Customs (JGC) meeting between India and Bangladesh was convened recently, in New Delhi.

  • The India-Bangladesh Joint Group of Customs meetings serves as a critical platform for fostering collaboration on customs-related matters and enhancing the facilitation of cross-border trade.

What are the Key Outcomes of the 14th JGC Meeting?

  • Expansion of Land Customs Stations: The meeting deliberated on the establishment of new land customs stations, which play a pivotal role in facilitating cross-border trade.
    • The meeting explored the possibility of entering into a bilateral agreement on customs cooperation, which could serve as a comprehensive framework for future collaboration.
  • Easing Port Restrictions: The discussion revolved around measures to simplify port restrictions, thereby enhancing the overall efficiency of port operations and reducing trade barriers.
    • India expressed appreciation for Bangladesh's completion of trial runs and the subsequent notification for operationalizing the Agreement on Use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports (ACMP), as agreed upon in the 13th JGC meeting.
  • Electronic Connectivity of Transit Modules: Discussions were initiated concerning the electronic connectivity of the respective transit modules of ACMP, signifying a step toward efficient digital collaboration.
  • Pre-Arrival Customs Data Exchange: Both parties engaged in talks regarding the pre-arrival exchange of customs data. This step aims to expedite the customs clearance process by enabling authorities to prepare in advance.

What are the Major Areas of Cooperation Between India and Bangladesh?

  • About:
    • India was the first country to recognise Bangladesh as a separate and independent state and established diplomatic relations with the country immediately after its independence in December 1971.
    • India's links with Bangladesh are civilisational, cultural, social and economic.
      • Bangladesh's geographical location as India's eastern neighbor gives it strategic importance.
      • It provides India with access to the Bay of Bengal and an important route for trade and connectivity with Southeast Asia.
  • Economic Cooperation:
    • Bangladesh is India’s biggest trading partner in the subcontinent. India’s export to Bangladesh stood at USD 8 billion during April –November 2022.
      • India enabled the export of cargo from ICDs within India to Bangladesh through inland waterways.
      • Also, the transshipment of containerized export cargo from Bangladesh to third countries through India gained a streamlined process.
        • Utilizing both riverine and land routes, this measure reinforces trade routes and opens up new possibilities for cargo movement.
      • India has provided duty free quota free access to Bangladesh on all tariff lines except tobacco and alcohol under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) since 2011.
      • Bangladesh and India in July 2023 launched a trade transaction in rupees, a move aimed at reducing dependence on the US dollar and strengthening regional currency and trade.

Note: According to the India Tourism Statistics Report 2022 of Ministry of Tourism, Bangladesh has been the second largest amongst tourist generating markets for India in the year 2021.

What are the Current Major Issues Between India and Bangladesh?

  • Sharing of Transboundary River Waters: India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers, but only two treaties have been signed so far of Ganga Waters Treaty and The Kushiyara River Treaty.
    • The other major rivers, such as the Teesta and Feni are still under negotiation.
  • Illegal Migration: Illegal migration from Bangladesh to India, involving refugees and economic migrants, remains a pressing issue.
    • This influx strains Indian border states, impacting resources and security. The problem intensified with Rohingya refugees entering India through Bangladesh.
    • The National Register of Citizens (NRC), aimed at curbing such migration, has raised concerns in Bangladesh.
  • Drug Smuggling & Trafficking: There have been many incidences of cross border drug smuggling & trafficking. Humans ( especially children & women) are trafficked & various animal & bird species are poached through these borders.
  • Growing Chinese Influence in Bangladesh: At present, Bangladesh is an active partner in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (India is not a part of BRI).
    • China's increasing involvement with Bangladesh could potentially undermine India's regional standing and impede its strategic aspirations.

Way Forward

  • Joint Task Forces: There is a need to establish joint task forces comprising law enforcement agencies from both countries to effectively combat cross-border drug smuggling and human trafficking. Shared intelligence and coordinated operations can disrupt illegal networks.
  • Smart Border Management: Implementing smart border management solutions that utilize artificial intelligence and data analytics can streamline cross-border movements while ensuring security and efficiency.
  • Digital Connectivity Corridor: There is a need to establish a digital connectivity corridor between the two countries, focusing on high-speed internet connectivity, digital services, and e-commerce. This can create new avenues for trade, collaboration, and technological exchange.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)

Q. With reference to river Teesta, consider the following statements: (2017)

  1. The source of river Teesta is the same as that of Brahmaputra but it flows through Sikkim.
  2. River Rangeet originates in Sikkim and it is a tributary of river Teesta.
  3. River Teesta flows into Bay of Bengal on the border of India and Bangladesh.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 3 only 
(b) 2 only 
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (b)

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