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Two more markets on Indo-Bangla borders to boost trade

Agartala, Aug 14 (TIWN) Two more "border haats" (bazars or markets) will be set up this year end along the India-Bangladesh border to boost local trade and people-to-people contacts between the two countries, a Tripura minister said Tuesday.

 Two border haats were set up along the Meghalaya border in 2011 on a pilot basis and these are now operational at the Kalaichar border village.

"Two border haats will be operational this year at Kasba in western Tripura and Sabroom in southern Tripura. Two more border haats would be set up at Dharmanagar and Kamalpur in northern Tripura subsequently," Industry and Commerce Minister Jitendra Chaudhury said.

These ‘haats’ are aimed to re-create the thriving commerce shuttered six decades ago after the creation of East Pakistan.

The northeastern state of Tripura shares an 856-km-long international border with Bangladesh, which shares a 4,095-km border with India's five states - West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram besides Tripura.

"Dhaka and New Delhi are keen to set up eight more markets along the India-Bangladesh border in the northeastern states," Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes said here recently.

"Through the border haats, besides business in local products, people-to-people contact on both sides of the border would be further strengthened."

The haats are to be set up within five km on either side of the international border.

"The state government had earlier demanded seven border haats along the Tripura border. In the first phase, four such markets were agreed upon by the two countries," said Chaudhury.

Necessary agreements have been signed between officials of the two countries.

"If the existing border infrastructure is upgraded, the volume of trade and business between Bangladesh and the northeastern states of India would increase by five to six times of the current level," the minister said.

"The border haats would be allowed to sell local agricultural and horticultural products, spices, minor forest products (excluding timber), fresh and dry fish, dairy and poultry products, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft items," said Chaudhury.

Trade in these markets would be conducted twice a week for four hours (1 p.m. to 5 p.m.). A spending cap of $50 will be imposed per head.

An official of the state industry and commerce department said no local tax would be imposed on the trading and both Indian as well as Bangladeshi currencies will be accepted.

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