Maitri Setu: One more step forward

11 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Connectivity is a supreme priority that ultimately ensures the economic development of every nation in a particular region. Road connectivity, being the easiest and cheapest mode, plays the most crucial role in developing interconnection. In recent years, Bangladesh, being at a geographically and strategically important location, has been trying to improve connectivity with other countries, particularly with the South East Asian countries aiming to ensure sustainable economic development. The inauguration of the Maitri Setu or the friendship bridge over the Feni River to connect Ramgarh in Bangladesh with Tripura in India is the latest edition of this attempt. The bridge would be the key road link between these two neighbours and also help boost connectivity in the region.

The 1.9-km bridge is expected to provide immense benefits to northeast India in trade matters as through the bridge Chattogram seaport is just 100 km from Agartala. The bridge will also help flourish the trade and tourism in south Assam, Manipur and Mizoram. It would also benefit Bangladesh as a new trade corridor and help ease the movement of goods and passengers between India and Bangladesh.

That the intraregional trade is far below the potential because of the conservative attitude of the nations in this region is an issue that deserves to be given utmost importance. A World Bank report says that while the intraregional trade accounts for 50 per cent and 22 per cent of total trade in East Asian and Sub-Saharan Africa economies respectively, bilateral trade accounts for only 10 per cent and 1 per cent of national trade of Bangladesh and India respectively. It is also learnt that improving transport connectivity and signing a free-trade agreement would boost exports of both countries and the Maitre Setu is just one of the many attempts Bangladesh has been making to improve connectivity.

We, therefore, expect that the countries would extend their hands in economic development that benefit every country in this region to achieve their individual goals.