The Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor will promote trade, transport, tourism and investment for Bangladesh due to its strategic location between India and China, said an economist.
MS Siddiqui, an economist and a professor, made the comments in a recent interview with Xinhua. China raised the proposal of building the BCIM Economic Corridor in 2013 to deepen friendly cooperation and connecting East Asia and South Asia.
Siddiqui, a regional representative of the World Mediation Organization (WMO), a Berlin-based international network of scholars and professionals, said that Bangladesh needs huge investment in infrastructures including roads, land and deep sea ports, significant projects, construction of industrial parks, free trade zones.
The South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE) and formation of BCIM Exchange Forum have enhanced prospects of financing infrastructures in Bangladesh, said Siddiqui, who is a part-time professor at Dhaka’s leading private Daffodil Int’l University.
He said the regional dialogue on trade may help Bangladesh to settle problems of tariff and non-tariff barriers of export to other countries, particularly India. It may remove all non-tariff barriers to trade, he added.
“Harmonization of standards, tariff structure, and dismantling of all para-tariff and non-tariff barriers are key to this,” said Siddiqui.
He said developing land customs stations with warehouse, weigh bridge, truck-parking area, banking and insurance facilities close to the land customs stations, establishing visa offices in the bordering states, and removal of travel tax could significantly lower costs and enhance trade among the BCIM countries.
“Success of regional cooperation largely depends on the existence of a playing field for trade for all the participating countries,” he said, adding that this can be ensured by removing all non-tariff barriers to trade.
The seaports of Chittagong and Mongla have huge hinterlands to serve, whose future prosperity hinge critically on their access to ports for purposes of export and import, said Siddiqui.
The economic corridor can take initiative to set up deep sea ports in Bangladesh to connect with all BCIM countries, he said, adding that improving connectivity within the region and mobilizing the required resources to build the necessary infrastructure must be seen from the perspective of long term development strategy of BCIM members.
For any cooperation of the BCIM type to succeed, the initiative, though originating from the academic circle or civil society, must be seized by the political leadership and the government, he said.