With China struggling, Indian trade with Bangladesh, Nepal surges
By Manish Anand
New Delhi, February 10: With China struggling to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, India appears to have seized the opportunity to significantly scale up bilateral trade with Nepal and Bangladesh in the last financial year. China had shut down one of the main trading border points with Nepal, while Bangladesh also looked at India to shore up the bilateral trade relations.
India-Bangladesh bilateral trade jumped by over 68 per cent last year. The scale of the bilateral trade was in favour of India. While India’s export grew by 44 per cent last year, Bangladesh too witnessed over 50 per cent rise in its exports. India and Bangladesh bilateral relations have been seen to be highly stable.
The Ministry of External Affairs in an answer to the Look Sabha MP M. Badruddin Ajmal on bilateral trade with countries who are part of the ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ noted that there had been a jump of over 35 per cent with the constituent nations in trades. The Ministry provided data for individual countries which showed that the bilateral gained most with Bangladesh and Nepal last year.
“India’s ‘Neighbourhood First policy’ continues to guide its approach towards the management of relations with countries in its immediate neighbourhood, that is, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Neighbourhood First policy, inter alia, is aimed at enhancing physical, digital and people to people connectivity across the region, as well as augmenting trade and commerce,” said the MEA in the reply. The Ministry also stated that the “bilateral trade of India with countries under the Neighborhood First Policy has increased from about $27.9 billion in 2017-18 to about $41.6 billion in 2021-22.
With Sheikh Hasina at the helm of Bangladesh, New Delhi-Dhaka ties are seen to be gaining more strength in recent years. The two countries are sharing resources to host the tourists on world’s longest river cruise Ganga Vilas, which has taken the travelers from Switzerland to several cities in India and Bangladesh.
India-Nepal trade also climbed sharply last year to $11.02 billion (2021-22) against $7.51 billion in 2020-21. India’s trade with Sri Lanka also gained strongly last year, with the bilateral trade clocking $6.81 in the last fiscal against $4.14 billion in 2020-21. Incidentally, Sri Lanka had last year slipped into a state of financial emergency after defaulting on the foreign debt service obligations. Incidentally, India’s trade with Pakistan marginally picked up with Pakistan as it grew to $0.52 billion against $0.33 billion in 2020-21.