Bangladesh and India Embark on Negotiations for a Landmark Trade Agreement

In an important step towards deepening economic and diplomatic ties, Bangladesh and India have announced the commencement of discussions aimed at forging a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). This historic move was revealed on 22 June during talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina.

Emphasizing the importance of the relationship between the two nations, Prime Minister Modi conveyed to the press that Bangladesh stands as India’s most significant development partner. He underscored the prioritization of bilateral relations with Bangladesh, stating, “Today, a futuristic vision for India-Bangladesh cooperation in new areas was prepared.” The dialogue unfolded in the presence of Prime Minister Hasina, illustrating the mutual commitment to strengthen ties.

A series of agreements were signed, marking a significant step towards enhancing collaboration across various sectors, including digital technology, maritime activities, and railway connectivity. Among these, the agreement on maritime cooperation and the blue economy holds particularly noteworthy potential for both countries.

The talks culminated with the signing of a vision document aimed at fostering a “green partnership,” reflecting the mutual interest in sustainable development and environmental conservation.

Prime Minister Modi also touched upon the anticipated discussions on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), a move anticipated to propel economic connections between the nations. He highlighted multiple facets of cooperation discussed during the talks, especially within the realms of defense cooperation, including explorations into defense production and modernization endeavors for the armed forces.

“We welcome Bangladesh’s decision to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative,” Modi added, pointing to the strategic significance of the cooperation. The discussion also underscored the synergy of India’s Neighbourhood First policy, Act East policy, Vision SAGar (Security and Growth for All in the Region), and the broader Indo-Pacific vision, with Bangladesh’s pivotal role encapsulated within these frameworks.

Reiterating India’s support for Bangladesh, Modi expressed India’s commitment to the vision of Bangabandhu, aiming for a stable, prosperous, and progressive Bangladesh.

On her part, Prime Minister Hasina highlighted the deep-rooted ties between the two countries, acknowledging India as a “major neighbour and a trusted friend.” She reminisced the shared history that dates back to Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971, emphasizing the valuable relationship with India. “India is our major neighbour and a trusted friend,” she stated, enhancing the significance of the dialogues held.

The initiation of talks on the CEPA represents a pivotal moment in Bangladesh-India relations, setting the foundation for a new era of cooperation. As discussions progress and agreements are enacted, the vision for a collaborative and prosperous future between the two nations draws closer to reality.

As these developments unfold, the agreements signed and discussions held today promise to usher in an era of enriched cooperation and shared growth for both Bangladesh and India.

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