Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Japan plans NE push with India, B’desh

New Delhi: Representatives from Japanese businesses and multilateral institutions, including the Asian Development Bank, are slated to visit the Northeast in April to explore significant investments as part of a wider manufacturing push, according to people aware of the matter.

The delegates will attend a conference to advance discussions around the “Bay of Bengal-Northeast Industrial Value Chain” in Agartala. Government officials from India, Bangladesh and Japan will also attend the meeting. The trilateral initiative, unveiled by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during his India visit earlier this month, aims to enhance regional connectivity.

Mint had earlier reported that this initiative between the three countries aims to construct a new industrial value chain centred around the Northeast and Bangladesh. New Delhi, Dhaka and Tokyo are looking to attract investment by following a two-pronged strategy.

First, regional infrastructure development efforts will be coordinated to improve connectivity between Bangladesh and the Northeast. Japan has been a vital infrastructure player in the region, with agencies like the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) developing roads and ports in India and Bangladesh, respectively. Second, the three countries will work together to ease policy barriers to boost business activity.

“Northeast India, which is surrounded by land, still has unexploited economic potential. Viewing Bangladesh and other areas of the South as a single economic zone, we will promote the Bay of Bengal-North East India industrial value chain concept in cooperation with India and Bangladesh to foster growth in the entire region,” Kishida said while delivering the 41st Sapru House lecture in New Delhi.

According to the persons cited above, a conference is now being held in Agartala in April to further develop this concept. Ministerial participation from the foreign ministries of both India and Bangladesh is expected. Other participants will include representatives from the Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in India.

Attracting Japanese businesses to invest in the Northeast, despite limited interest from these firms in the past, will be a key challenge for this new initiative. Japanese government organisations like JICA, Japan External Trade Research Organisation and Japan Bank for International Cooperation are also expected. Representatives from the Asian Development Bank will also be present.

This emerging grouping also contains a potent strategic logic. By developing India’s Northeast and Bangladesh as manufacturing hubs, the three countries hope to pull regional economies closer. Moreover, given China’s enormous economic heft in the region, the plan is also aimed in some measure to construct a new economic centre of gravity in the Bay of Bengal region.

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