Japan aims at single economic zone
By developing Matarbari port, the pressure on Chittagong port can be reduced. At the same time, it will also meet the future needs of Bangladesh and North Eastern part of India. Kishida visited India for the first time this month. During that time, Kishida had said, ‘Considering Bangladesh and the rest of the south as a single economic zone, we will promote the Bay of Bengal-North East India industrial value chain concept in cooperation with Bangladesh and India so that the entire region can be integrated. Let there be development.
Japan plans to organize the conferences with the help of the governments of North East India and Bangladesh. It believes that this will spur economic development and generate interest in the area for Japanese companies. Japan’s efforts also include the development of roads in Assam, Mizoram and Tripura, which will connect to ongoing Japanese-assisted projects in Bangladesh.
Why would China be worried
The development of an industrial chain connecting the Bay of Bengal and India’s North-East region is expected to bring huge economic benefits to India in the region and beyond. As the lead country of the Indo-Pacific Ocean Initiative, Japan has worked closely with India, supporting the development of the landlocked north-eastern region through India’s Japan-India Act East Forum.
Act East Forum was established in 2017. Its objective was to promote the development of the North-Eastern region of India and connectivity between the region and South-East Asia. The Forum reflects India’s Act East policy and Japan’s vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. This step of Japan is going to disturb China. China, which is aggressive in India’s North East, is currently investing in Bangladesh. There is also a possibility that its influence will reduce with the arrival of Japan.
Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida had said in a speech explaining his free and open Indo-Pacific vision that North-East India, which is surrounded by forests, has many such capabilities about which no one knows much. Japan is helping Bangladesh through the Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B) initiative to develop the Matarbari port and improve connectivity in the Bengal region. Japan has launched a Joint Research Group on the possibility of an Economic Partnership Agreement with Bangladesh to further enhance economic cooperation.