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CWA # 43, 21 July 2018
High Profile Visits, Agreements and MoUs
High Profile Visits, Agreements and MoUs
Oishee Majumdar is a Research Assistant at the ISSSP, NIAS.
The recent visit of Rajnath Singh Home Minister of India to Bangladesh in July 2018, is a part of a series of high profile visits between the two countries. The brief below will enumerate the list of high profile visits.
The high profile visits during the last few years are not merely symbolic. Numerous agreements were signed between the two countries during these visits at multiple levels. These agreements create numerous linkages between different institutions at State levels and beyond.
Five Reasons why Bangladesh is important for India?
Bangladesh is an important neighbour for India the following five reasons. Firstly, it makes the north-eastern part of India more accessible to the rest of the country. Without Bangladesh, India would be left with only the Chicken’s Neck, to access the seven north-eastern states. Hence Bangladesh forms an important corridor to the often disturbed and less north-eastern states.
Secondly, Bangladesh along with India plays a prominent role in the maritime security particularly of the Bay of Bengal region. Thirdly, it is necessary for India to maintain good relations with Bangladesh in order to counter China’s growing influence. China has been making efforts to expand its influence and investments in Bangladesh. It is vital for India to keep a check on this as it may pose a threat to India’s security and territorial integrity.
Fourthly, Bangladesh has been a steady trading partner for India. India’s exports to Bangladesh in the period July 2016 – March 2017 stood at US$ 4489.30 million and imports from Bangladesh during this period stood at US$ 672.40. Finally, the two countries share water resources. Maintaining a good relation would enable just sharing of water resources vital for the population in the concerned areas and also to prevent any major conflict from breaking out between the two countries.
Finally, Bangladesh is also important for India’s Act East pursuit. Along with Myanmar, Bangladesh geographically is the gateway to Southeast Asia.
Chronology of High Profile Visits since 2014
Source: Ministry of External Affairs
Since the commencement of the NDA government under the leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi in 2014, there have been a number of significant bilateral diplomatic visits and meetings between representatives of the two countries, including a visit each by the Prime Ministers of both the countries, namely Mr. Narendra Modi and Mrs. Sheikh Hasina.
25-27 June 2014
India’s External Affairs Minister visits Dhaka:
Mrs. Sushma Swaraj undertook her first stand-alone foreign visit to Bangladesh. This “goodwill” visit was aimed at taking forward the bilateral ties between the two countries on a further positive trajectory.
18 -23 December 2014
President of Bangladesh visits India:
H.H. Mr. Md Abdul Hamid, President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh paid an official visit to India at the invitation of Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, to visit India and be a guest in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
6- 7 June 2015
India’s Prime Minister visits Bangladesh:
Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India paid a state visit to Bangladesh at the invitation of Mrs. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. This was Modi’s first visit to Bangladesh and reflected the importance attached by India to the bilateral relationship shred by the two countries. The visit was expected to further expand the cordial and cooperative relationship between the two countries and strengthen the ties of friendship and trust between India and Bangladesh.
11-12 May 2016
Foreign Secretary of India visits Bangladesh:
Dr. S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary of India paid a bilateral visit to Bangladesh to follow up and review progress on decisions and understandings reached during the visit of Mr. Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh in June 2015.
1-3 March 2016
Minister of Foreign affairs of Bangladesh visits New Dellhi:
Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bangladesh visited New Delhi to participate in the first edition of the ‘Raisina Dialogue’ being organized by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation.
23-24 February 2017
Foreign Secretary of India visits Bangladesh:
Dr. S Jaishakar, Foreign Secretary of India, visited Bangladesh at the invitation of Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh.
7-10 April 2017
Prime Minister of Bangladesh visits India:
Mrs. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh visited India on an invitation extended by Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India to further strong ties of friendship and trust between the leaders.
22-23 October 2017
India’s External Affairs Minister visits Bangladesh:
Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs of India visited Dhaka at the invitation of Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bangladesh. They together co-chaired the 4th meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission.
8-10 April 2018
India’s Foreign secretary visits Bangladesh:
Mr.Vijay Gokhale, Foreign Secretary of India paid his first official visit to Bangladesh at the invitation of Md. Shahidul Haque, the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh.
14-16 July 2018
India’s Home Minister visits Bangladesh:
Mr. Rajnath Singh, Union Home minister of India, visited Bangladesh to hold high-level talks on important issues with his Bangladeshi counter-part, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
Important Agreements/MoUs between India and Bangladesh since 2014
Source: Ministry of External Affairs
Diplomatic meetings often result in successful agreements for further cooperation between the two countries. Under the current NDA government, since June 2015 till July 2018 several Agreements/ MoUs have been signed between India and Bangladesh. They are as follows:
Agreements signed during Prime Minister of India’s visit to Bangladesh, 6 June 2015
Narendra Modi, undertook his first visit to Bangladesh to have extensive discussions on important issues with Mrs. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The two countries reached to twenty-two official agreements during the visit.
Protocol for Exchange of Instrument of Ratification for Land Boundary Agreement
Land Boundary Agreement:
Protocol for exchange of Instrument of Ratification regarding the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, 1974 and Protocol of 2011 to the Land Boundary Agreement. The Agreement concerning the Demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh and Related Matters of 1974 and the 2011 Protocol to the 1974 Agreement come into effect with the exchange of Instrument of Ratification.
Exchange of Letters on Modalities for Implementation of India:
Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, 1974 and Protocol of 2011 to the Land Boundary Agreement. The letter specifies the modalities for implementation of Agreement concerning the Demarcation of the Land Boundary between India and Bangladesh and related matters of 1974 and Protocol of 2011.
B. Inter-Governmental: Agreements
Agreement on Coastal Shipping between India and Bangladesh:
Agreement seeks to promote two-way trade between India and Bangladesh through ports. Presently, shipping cargo plies between the countries through Colombo/Singapore/Klang ports. Coastal shipping will reduce shipping time and help in reducing congestion at the land ports.
Bilateral Trade Agreement (Renewal):
Agreement was first signed in 1972. Renewal of Agreement envisages promotion of trade through land, waterways, and railways between the two countries and provides for transit to the North-East India. It also facilitates access to Bangladesh cargo through India into Nepal and Bhutan. The Agreement has a validity of five years with provisions for auto renewal.
Bilateral Cooperation Agreement between Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) and Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute (BSTI) on cooperation in the field of Standardization:
Agreement provides for phase wise process of conformity assessment and product certification involving inspections, testing of samples and acceptance of each other’s inspection reports. The Agreement seeks to eliminate technical barriers to trade to facilitate and enhance reciprocal market access of products to each other’s countries.
Agreement on Dhaka-Shillong:
Guwahati Bus Service and its Protocol- Agreement provides for operation of passenger buses between Dhaka and Guwahati with stops at Shillong and Sylhet. Will promote people to people contact. The Agreement provides for buses to run in this route six days a week.
Agreement on Kolkata-Dhaka:
Agartala Bus Service and its Protocol-Agreement provides for operation of passenger buses directly between Agartala and Kolkata with one stoppage at Dhaka. Would reduce the travel distance between the two state capitals of West Bengal and Tripura. The Agreement provides for buses to run in this route six days a week.
C. Inter-Governmental: Protocol / Programme
Protocol on Inland Waterways Transit and Trade (PIWTT) (Renewal):
This protocol was first signed in 1972. The protocol outlines mutually beneficial arrangements for use of waterways of both countries for commerce between them and for passage of goods between two places in one country and to third countries through the territory of the other under mutually agreed terms. The protocol has five years validity with automatic renewal.
Cultural Exchange Programme between the Government of India and the Government of Bangladesh for the year 2015-2017:
Programme envisages detailed plan of action and cooperation in the field of Art and Culture, Mass Media and Youth Affairs and Sports for the period 2015-2017.
D. Inter-Governmental: MoUs
MoU between Government of India and Government of Bangladesh for extending a new Line of Credit (LoC) of US Dollar 2.0 billion:
India extends a new LoC of US Dollar 2.0 billion to Bangladesh, with the same terms and conditions as agreed to in the existing Line of Credit of US Dollar 800 million extended by India to Bangladesh. Projects, which are critical for social and infrastructure development in Bangladesh, such as, in Power, Railways, Road Transportation, Information & Communication Technology, Shipping, Health, Technical Education sectors, will be considered for financing under the New Line of Credit of US$ 2 Billion. An indicative list of projects is appended to the MoU.
MoU between India and Bangladesh on Use of Chittagong and Mongla Ports for Movement of Goods to and from India:
MoU provides that Bangladesh shall allow use of Chittagong and Mongla Ports for the movement of goods to and from India by using Chittagong/Mongla to Agartala, Chittagong/Mongla to Dawki, and Chittagong/Mongla to Sutarkandi routes. Movements of goods to and from Chittagong and Mongla Ports may be by waterways, rail, road or multimodal transport.
MoU between India and Bangladesh on Blue Economy and Maritime Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean:
Envisages cooperation on blue economy and maritime sphere for capacity building, training and joint research collaborations, and setting up of a Joint Working Group to further cooperation in this area.
MoU between Government of India and Government of Bangladesh on Bilateral Cooperation for Prevention of Human Trafficking:
MoU seeks to strengthen cooperation to prevent all forms of the human trafficking especially trafficking of Women and Children; Rescue, Recovery, ensuring the speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organized crime syndicates in either country, including the repatriation of victims as expeditiously as possible. Home country will undertake the safe and effective reintegration of the victims.
MoU between Government of India and Government of Bangladesh on the prevention of Smuggling and Circulation of Fake Currency Notes:
MoU seeks cooperation in the field of preventing and combating production, smuggling and circulation of fake currency notes through dialogue and interaction between the members of the Joint Task Force constituted for tacking the menace of fake currency notes (FCN) between India and Bangladesh.
MoU on the establishment of Indian Special Economic Zone in Bangladesh:
Envisages cooperation for the establishment of an Indian Economic Zone with the participation of business entities from both countries. Both the countries will work out preferential policies and encourage investors/companies/business communities of the two countries to set up units in Indian Economic Zone in Bangladesh.
MoU between the Coast Guards of India and Bangladesh:
Consequent to the settling of Maritime boundary between India and Bangladesh, MOU seeks cooperation between both the Coast guards to ensure jointly marine security and prevent crimes at sea.
MoU for a Project under India Endowment for Climate Change:
South Asia (IECC-SA) of SAARC to supply 70000 Improved Cook Stoves to Bangladesh. This Project envisages supply of efficient and Improved cook stoves to 70000 rural households in Bangladesh. Project will be funded by India Endowment for Climate Change-South Asia (IECC-SA) established under SAARC, set up to meet climate change challenges in South Asia.
MoU between Jamia Milia Islamia, India and University of Rajshahi of Bangladesh:
MoU envisages collaboration between both the Universities to develop academic and cultural exchange in education, research and other related areas. MOU will facilitate faculty and student exchange program, including internships and sabbaticals. Joint publication of research, lectures, and trainings will also be supported by MoU.
MoU between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India, and University of Dhaka, Bangladesh for Joint research on Oceanography in Bay of Bengal:
MoU will facilitate joint study, project research and cooperation for training and capacity building in Oceanography.
E. Inter-Governmental: Adoption of Statement of Intent
Statement of Intent for Cooperation in the Field of Education:
First comprehensive document for bilateral cooperation in education sector. The ‘Statement of Intent’ provides a broad framework to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of education. It envisages the establishment of a high level dialogue in the field of education, Vice Chancellor’s Round Table, and cooperation in the areas of skill development, technical and vocational education. Indira Gandhi National Open University and Bangladesh Open University will work together for distant education sphere. Computer and ICT, Mathematics, Science and Technology are areas identified for R&D collaboration.
F. Semi Government: Agreement / Letter of Consent
Handing over of a Letter of Consent to the Chairman, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India by Chairman, Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) of Bangladesh to commence operations in Bangladesh by LIC:
With the Letter of Consent, LIC will begin operation in Bangladesh. LIC will form a Joint Venture Company with a local partner with 50% stake and commence business operation.
Agreement between Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and BSNL and Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL):
A 22 kilometer optical fibre cable from Brahmanbaria to Akhaura border would provide the hired bandwidth to Agartala. This would significantly boost the signal strength of Internet available in the North-East of India.
Agreements signed during Prime Minister of Bangladesh’s visits India, 7-10 April 2017
Sheikh Hasina, prime Minister of Bangladesh undertook a State Visit to India. Apart from her official engagements, she also visited places of historical and cultural importance in India. After meetings with Mr. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, twenty-two agreements/MoUs were decided upon.
Agreements signed during Foreign Secretary of India’s visit to Bangladesh, 8-18 April 2018
During the visit of Vijay Gokhale, the Foreign Secretary of India to Bangladesh, the following six MoUs were signed.
Abigail Miriam Fernandez