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Expanding southwards: Bangladesh to inaugurate Deputy High Commission in Chennai

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Masud Bin Momen, Bangladesh’s foreign secretary, will visit India next week to inaugurate a new Deputy High Commission in Chennai. Mr. Momen will be in India from February 23 to 25, marking the first high-level visit from Bangladesh in a long time. The Chennai mission is set to become Bangladesh’s first mission in South India. Kolkata and Mumbai already house Bangladesh’s Deputy High Commissions. In addition, Guwahati and Agartala each have an Assistant High Commission.

In several areas, Bangladesh and South India have considerable interaction, including technological cooperation, human resource development, trade, commerce, tourism, medical cooperation, and connectivity. When the mission in Chennai is fully operational, it will serve as a catalyst for further strengthening and diversifying South India’s expanding collaboration with Bangladesh.

The southern states are hotspots of information technology centers, prestigious educational and research institutions, and medical centers that have proved beneficial to Bangladesh. Because of the South’s medical advancements, a substantial number of Bangladeshi patients have come to South India for specialized treatment.

When it comes to the cotton trade, Bangladesh and India are linked by a golden thread. It has been learned that raw cotton and textile supplies worth USD two billion per year is imported from India. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana account for the majority of this trade window. As a result, coastal shipping between Chittagong and Visakhapatnam, as well as maritime connectivity between Chittagong and Chennai, has been developed by the authorities which will significantly increase trade volumes between the two countries.

Bangladesh had become India’s greatest supplier of foreign tourists prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, with 2.5 million people visiting the nation in 2019. The fact that tens of thousands of Bangladeshi visitors travel to South India for medical treatment was a major factor in the decision to establish a new mission in Chennai.

With the Omicron wave decreasing, the frequency of flights under an air bubble agreement between India and Bangladesh was boosted from 7 to 21 per week late last year, and restrictions on Bangladeshi travelers were relaxed at some Indian airports such as Kolkata this month.

During his meeting with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi, Masud Bin Momen is expected to conduct a detailed review of bilateral relations and India-backed development initiatives in Bangladesh. The meeting will also prepare the way for a visit by Bangladesh’s foreign minister, whose dates are still being worked out. AK Abdul Momen is expected to visit India in early March or May, given Bangladesh’s busy internal political calendar in the coming weeks.

During the pandemic, the two countries’ top officials have met virtually on a regular basis, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Dhaka in March last year to take part in ceremonies celebrating Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of independence. In the midst of the pandemic, India initiated numerous large connectivity and infrastructure projects to improve linkages between Bangladesh and the north-eastern states.

The two countries are well aware that their fates are inextricably linked and that they must flourish together. Strengthening bilateral partnerships is the best way to ensure stability, prosperity, and long-term gains.

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