Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Saturday hailed the decision to open the Chittagong port in Bangladesh to facilitate trade with India's Northeast.
Sangma said the decision will boost trade in the region and Meghalaya in particular, which shares a very long international border with Bangladesh.
This is a big step towards ensuring that we, in the Northeast, have port connectivity and accessibility, Sangma said while addressing the 6th edition of the 'Young Leaders Connect' here.
"It will reduce transportation cost for goods and allow exposure for the northeastern states to the international markets, he said.
The Bangladesh government had earlier this month approved a draft agreement to allow northeastern states of India to use Chittagong sea port and Mongla river ports, primarily aimed at restoring pre-partition logistics for the entire northeast region.
Sangma also said that increase of trade between India, Bangladesh and Myanmar is crucial for the economic development of Meghalaya.
The state shares a 443-km long International border with Bangladesh and recently the Meghalaya government has said it will write to the Centre to facilitate setting up of more import/export points along the Indo-Bangladesh border.
The state, rich in natural resources, also offers excellent potential for export for agro-horticulture products, forest products, handloom and handicrafts, a senior Industries department official told PTI.
Admitting that the state suffers from locational disadvantages, the official said that poor infrastructure and scanty information regarding export potential are the reasons why bilateral trade did not pick up as expected till date.
Terming entrepreneurship as the key to the economic progress of the region, Sangma talked about various initiatives of the Meghalaya government to support the innovative entrepreneurs of the state.
We have initiated the entrepreneurship of the month programme wherein selected entrepreneurs of the state will be given support and guidance by the Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship. We have also decided to start incubation centres in three different locations in the state which will provide a space for entrepreneurs from different fields to connect and link with other entrepreneurs," he added.
Speaking of his recent visit to France to attend the Salon International de IAgroalimentaire, the worlds largest food innovation exhibition, Sangma also highlighted the potential of the Northeastern region to develop food processing industries.
Addressing the gathering, Assam MP Gaurav Gogoi stressed on the need to connect, share and emulate the best practices to fuel innovation and creativity among the youth.
Naveen Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, spoke on the need for greater cooperation among the states in order create a conducive atmosphere to achieve goals and objectives beneficial to the region in a speedy manner.