On 17 December 2020, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina held a virtual summit to discuss the bilateral relationship between the two countries. The virtual summit was also held with intentions to enhance multilateral projects and institutes.Embed from Getty Images
During the summit, Bangladesh expressed their interest in becoming a part of the India- Myanmar- Thailand (IMT) Highway. Bangladesh has sought India’s support to become a part of the road belt.
India had extended the proposal to Bangladesh earlier, but the then Khaleda Zia government in Bangladesh opposed it. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dr. Abdul Momen, also issued an official statement on the same.
Bangladesh expressed their interest to be included in the IMT Highway, keeping in mind the connectivity with South East Asian countries through trans-border corridors.
In 2014, the Government of India, led by Sri Narendra Modi, envisioned the Act-East policy. The India- Myanmar- Thailand (IMT) Highway was envisioned under India’s Act-East policy. The ambitious IMT Highway would be a 1,350 km long, four-lane highway. Upon completion, the IMT Highway would give access to India into the ASEAN market through land.
The IMT Highway would start from Moreh- Tamu in India and would span through Mandalay in Myanmar and reach Myawaddy- Mae Sot in Thailand.
The Government of India has shown keen interest in extending the IMT Highway to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the future. The IMT Highway would also be extended up to Uttar Pradesh in India. The current proposed map of IMT Highway does not include Bangladesh. Thus, Bangladesh has sought India’s support to be included in the IMT Highway.
Bangladesh has also shown strong interest in BBIN Road. India had proposed the Bangladesh- Bhutan-India and Nepal road. India has proposed the BBIN road to improve connectivity and facilitate the movement of passengers and goods among the neighboring countries, and to boost Sub-Regional Cooperation.
In recent times, India and Bangladesh have been showing interest in enhancing transport and connectivity through railways, ports, and waterways. Projects such as Sonamura- Daudkandi Inland Waterway Route, Feni Bridge between Sabroom to Ramgarh, and Haldibari- Chilahati Rail Link are expected to improve the relationship between India and Bangladesh.