‘Told My Cook To Not Use Onion In food’: Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina On India’s Export Ban

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 04 October 2019, 08:29 PM
Sheikh Hasina is in Delhi to attend the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF)
Sheikh Hasina is in Delhi to attend the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF) (Photo Credit : ANI )

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked her cook not to use onion after India's sudden decision to stop onion exports. "I don't know why you stopped onion (exports). So what I did was, I told my cook not to use onion in food. Prior notice of such decisions would help. Suddenly, you stopped and it became a difficulty for us. In the future, if you are taking such a decision, prior information would help," she said in a lighter vein.

The Bangladeshi prime minister is in Delhi to attend the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF).  She made this statement while addressing India-Bangladesh Business Forum in the national capital, which was organised by industry chambers, including CII and Assocham. Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal was also present at the event.

India had banned exports of onion on last Sunday to contain spiraling prices and increase the availability of the commodity in the domestic market. The Centre has also imposed stock limits on both retail and wholesale traders for onion.

Further talking to enhancing trade and investments between the two countries, she said huge potential exists in Bangladesh for the Indian business community in different sectors.

She said that Bangladesh has the most liberal investment policy in South Asia, and it includes protection of foreign investment by law; generous tax holiday; concessionary duty on import of machinery; unrestricted exit policy; full repatriation of dividend and capital on exit, to name a few.

"We are in the process of establishing 100 Special Economic Zones. About a dozen of them are ready with four allotments to three countries. Bangladesh has offered three zones for Indian investors at Mongla, Bheramara and Mirsarai. Substantial investment from Indian investors in these three Indian Economic Zones in Bangladesh would help broaden our exportable base.

"We also want to see trade and investment together where Indian big investors can set up industries in Bangladesh and export the products to the north-eastern states of India and to South-east Asian countries taking advantage of the improved connectivity between us," Hasina said.

The prime minister said that strategic location of Bangladesh provides tremendous potential for being the economic hub of the region.

With India on the west, China on the north and Southeast Asia on the east, Bangladesh is in the middle of a combined market of 4 billion people, she said, adding the volume of bilateral trade has steadily grown during the past years.

"The balance of trade, however, is still largely in India's favour. The volume of trade between the two countries is nearly USD 10 billion. In 2018, Bangladesh was India's eighth largest export destination with USD 8.8 billion export and our export to India also crossed USD 1 billion mark for the first time last year. So, the progress is visible, but there is lot of scope for further deepening our relations in the area of trade and investment," she said.

Goyal said that India businesses should grab opportunities in the neighbouring country.

"There are so many areas where businesses of both countries can increase cooperation. Grab the opportunity that Bangladesh offers," he said.

Further, he said that lot of potential exists in railways also and India is ready to share its expertise in the development of this sector in Bangladesh. India is looking to increase the frequency of three trains between the two countries, he added.

Bandhan Express, which runs between Kolkata and Khulna once a week, would be increased to twice a week and later four days a week. Similarly, frequency of Maitree express, which runs between Kolkata and Dhaka, would be increased to five day a week from the current four day a week and "my effort will be to make it daily," he said.

"We are looking at making entire railways between the countries a seamless movement for goods and people," he added.

Commenting on the economic relations between the two countries, SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) Vikramjit Singh Sahney said that both the countries have huge potential to increase trade and investments.

He said that the line of credit extended by India to Bangladesh should include fertiliser plants also and "there is a need to open more check posts and skill training centres to enhance capacity building".

With PTI Inputs

First Published: Friday, October 04, 2019 08:21 PM

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