Economists of India Bangladesh stress on reopening of border haats

    Agartala, Jun 26 (PTI) Economists of India and
Bangladesh have sought immediate reopening of 'border haats',
saying that prolonged closure of these markets will lead to
economic impoverishment of local people, which may force them
to restart informal cross-border trade.
    Taking part in a webinar, the economists said that
resumption of operations of border haats is also required for
"ensuring peace, security, stability and prosperity" in the
localities where they were set up.
    There are four border haats along the Indo-Bangladesh
border - two each in Tripura and Meghalaya. These markets are
now closed because of the outbreak of novel coronavirus.
    "Given the significance of the border haats in
maintaining a vibrant economy at the local level, especially
in remote border areas, border haats need to be reopened
without any delay," Atiur Rahman, a former governor of the
Bangladesh Bank, said in the webinar.
    Bangladesh Bank is the central bank of the
neighbouring country.
    Border haats have reinforced the narrative that
cross-border trade leads to increased security and economic
prosperity of the local people, Rahman said.
    Mohit Sippy, Senior Programme and Policy Manager, Asia
Regional at the New Delhi office of the Department for
International Development (DFID), said that border haats have
a significant positive impact on the women living in the
border regions.
    "This needs to be up-scaled so as to empower and make
them economically more independent," Sippy said and emphasized
on the role of the border haats in achieving greater
cooperation between India and Bangladesh in areas where local
communities are key drivers.
    "Existing border haats along the India-Bangladesh
border need to be re-opened at the earliest and after adopting
appropriate precautionary measures related to health and
hygiene," said Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS
International, a Jaipur-based think tank working on economic
and public policy issues.
    The CUTS International and the Unnayan Shamannay, a
non-governmental research organization of Bangladesh,
organized the webinar as part of a project supported by the
United Kingdoms DFID under its Asia Regional Trade and
Connectivity Programme on Thursday.
    Rahman is also the chairperson of the Unnayan
    Researchers of the CUTS International and the Unnayan
Shamannay also presented their findings on "Border haats
between India and Bangladesh as a tool to reduce informal
cross-border trade between the two countries", a statement
issued by the organizers said.
    Several other economists of India and Bangladesh also
took part in the webinar on border haats.
    'Border haat' is a once-a-week semi-formal market,
which allows local people from both countries to trade in
vegetables, fruits, spices, food items, agro-implements,
cosmetics, toiletries, garments and other indigenous products.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)