India, Bangladesh working on MoU to tackle fake currency menace: Sujatha Singh

New Delhi, Apr.2: India and Bangladesh are working towards signing a Memorandum of Understanding to tackle the problem of fake currency, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh revealed here today.

Delivering the keynote address at the 5th India Bangladesh Dialogue, organised by Observer Research Foundation and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, Dhaka, Singh said the Task Force on Fake Currency had conducted its first meeting in January this year and now working on a MoU to be signed between the two countries.

Describing Indo-Bangla relations as “a mature relationship borne out of shared experiences”, Singh said in the last five years, both countries have achieved “remarkable transformation” in relationship, but still have a long way to go.

She said the trade between the countries have risen to 5.3 billion dollars in 2012-13 from 3.7 billion dollars in 2007-8. However, “we still have a long way to go and much work need to be done as trade volumes are still very low,” she said.

Noting that Bangladesh has already replaced Sri Lanka as India’s largest trading partner in South Asia, the foreign secretary said if we were to increase trade volume, we need to work on trade and investment in conjunction. “This is one of the pillars on which our future relationship needs to be built,” she said.

Singh said many Indian corporate are keen to invest in Bangladesh and there is potential for Bangladesh investment in India. She suggested that the next ORF-BEI conference can focus on specific areas and projects looking at new models of cooperation that would create greater trade and investment.

Saying cooperation in the power sector is progressing well, the Foreign Secretary envisaged grid connectivity to North East region and a power grid traversing North East, Bangladesh to West Bengal. “Both sides need to work on it. This is not something which will benefit only India, but will benefit Bangladesh as well,” she said.

The Foreign Secretary said the Sub-Regional Cooperation Joint Working Group on water and power and trade and connectivity will hold its second meeting soon.

“It has great potential. It needs to be explored further,” she said.

BEI President Farooq Sobhan, former Bangladesh High Commissioner to India and a former Foreign Secretary, said how the India-Australia Dialogue, started in 2009 in Dhaka, had contributed to improving relations between the countries.

Pointing out that insurgency in the North East as well as religious extremists are posing threats to both the countries, he stressed the need for both the countries to work closely to meet these challenges effectively and meaningfully.

ORF Director Sunjoy Joshi said his organisation, along with BEI, is working towards new areas of cooperation to see that both the countries and the region overcome the baggage of history for socio-economic integration and development.

Former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty suggested that India and Bangladesh should try to form a council with PMs of both the countries as chairpersons and regional heads as members to solve the problems facing Bangladesh and North East.

The two-day dialogue is discussing important specific areas like counter terrorism, border management and security, radicalisation in South Asia and measures to counter it, maritime security in the Indian Ocean, etc. (ANI)