KOLKATA, India, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Attendants of a regional forum organized here by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and its partners from Bangladesh, China and Myanmar Monday expressed their hope for greater integration of trade and investment among the four countries.
Prabir De, Fellow, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), while elaborating on the rationale for Regional Trade and Investment Cooperation among the Bangladesh China India Myanmar Business Forum (BCIM) member countries, very comprehensively highlighted on the advantages, concerns and challenges faced by the vibrant neighborhood of BCIM.
The four countries with their diversified landscape, vast population, heterogeneous industries, product specialization and coastal access, can act as complementary to each other.
Though rising trade deficit is a major area of concern in bi- lateral trade of the region, the high inter-regional trade potential among these four countries with huge trade capacity largely remains unrealized.
De felt more market access, diversification and sophistication of products, harmonization of standards and fragmentation in BCIM is the need of the hour. He also talked about encouraging progress in transit in Myanmar.
Sandipan Chakravortty, Managing Director, Tata Steel Processing and Distribution Ltd., mentioned that India and China constitute 40 percent of world population thus projecting enormous trade potential and growth opportunities.
China is India's top trading partner but the target is to take up India from among China's top ten trading partners to the top five. Chakravorrty said that India should emphasize on expanding its exports to China. Wine, Telecommunication, food, beverage English education etc. are some of the sectors where India can increase its export opportunities.
On the other hand, trade has remained more or less static between India and Bangladesh which need to grow. Between India and Myanmar there is a trade surplus but needs to be further enhanced.
Annisul Huq, Immediate Past President South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Former President Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, considered India and China as the main players among the SAARC countries. With eight dynamic countries in the zone, growth has not been as dynamic as it should have been.
According to Huq, Bangladesh's export to China is 3.8 percent while its import is 32.8 percent. Contrarily, China's import from Bangladesh accounts to 0.02 percent. Bangladesh's export to India is 0.01 percent while its import is 14 percent.
There is a total of about 779 million U.S. dollar of Foreign Direct Investment inflow to Bangladesh from China and India, he added.
Accessing Visas for Bangladesh has been a hindrance in the path of flourishment of trade for long. But he assured that such problems are being meted out fast and visas can be applied through internet. He felt the need of compartmentalization of trade and politics. To him BCIM is a new regionalization of business with promising trade potentials and development.
Tan Yun, Deputy Secretary General, Foreign Trade Promotion Council of Yunnun, informed of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) which is a helpful forum in aid of foreigners and investors to do business in China.
She urged the investors to come to China and utilize the trading opportunities there. Yunnan, a land of beauty and abundance with its strategic geographical location and huge natural and energy resources is ranked sixth in China, she said.
Moreover it is keenly developing the infrastructure like airports, trans- Asian railways and investment policies to make it a favorable trade and tourist destination in China.
Kyaw Swe Tint, Consulate General, Republic of the Union of Myanmar, stated that tourism is the most promising industry that is growing real fast. The significance of tourism is immense in Myanmar as it has generated high employment.
He said BCIM has a great potential to be turned into world class tourist spots which in turn would generate great trade opportunities for the regions. Development of livestock and rural sectors must also be on the agenda.
R.K.Agrawal, Deputy Chairman, CII Eastern Region and Mr. Viresh Oberoi, Vice Chairman, CII West Bengal State Council also addressed the gathering.