Shillong, Nov 5 (IANS): Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Tuesday left for Bangladesh to explore trade opportunities between the two geographical neighbours.
"Meghalaya aspires to be a prosperous state by 2030. To achieve this goal, the state government has put together a clear strategy that capitalizes on our core strengths while developing new capabilities for growth and development. Bangladesh is an important partner in our development journey," Sangma said.
Sangma, who is leading a twenty member delegation, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, entrepreneurs and various stakeholders.
The Chief Minister will also interact with Bangladeshi students.
"India and Bangladesh have an annual trade of $10 billion, but out of this total, Meghalaya contributes only 0.7 per cent despite sharing a 443 km long border with Bangladesh," he said.
"... the idea of this trip is to further improve our ties with Bangladesh. We will meet farmers, entrepreneurs, students, tour operators and find out how we could take advantage of these opportunities in terms of agriculture, horticulture, power, tourism and many other sectors where we can have strong collaboration with them," the Chief Minister explained.
He said the Meghalaya government hopes to build a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship that spans over multiple sectors with Bangladesh.
Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui, Agriculture Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh, Transport Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar, senior government officials, entrepreneurs and tour operators are accompanying the Chief Minister.
Sangma said the Meghalaya government aims to double the tourist footfalls from Bangladesh in the next two years by strengthening cooperation between the tour operators of Meghalaya and Bangladesh and developing new historic circuits.
The Chief Minister said the government aims to increase exports of niche agricultural and horticultural products to neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh.
Stating that the power sector is another opportunity, Sangma said currently Meghalaya has been able to tap only 10 per cent of the 3400 MW hydropower potential.
He said the government plan is to significantly increase this capacity by 2022 with six new medium and large hydropower projects. Bangladesh is an important potential market for power from Meghalaya.
Sangma said that educational institutions of Shillong can be a transformative opportunity for a young country like Bangladesh which has nearly 30 per cent of its population in the 10-24 age group.