India on project-opening spree amid China’s attempt to woo Bangladesh

India has taken a slew of initiatives, including launch of a multi-modal link via Chittagong port to Bangladesh, over the past two weeks for strengthening the trade ties amid China’s bid to increase influence in the country’s eastern neighbourhood.

As part of the latest initiative, 10 broadgauge (BG) locomotives were handed over to Dhaka by external affairs minister S Jaishankar and railways minister Piyush Goyal on Monday.

The central government has had to do some manoeuvering for these projects amid confrontation with the West Bengal government which has been creating hurdles to slow down cross-border land trade, citing the “spread of Covid” from Bangladesh.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Jaishankar highlighted the depth of India-Bangladesh ties while Goyal underscored the importance of railway connectivity to increase bilateral trade.

Recently China not only tried to lure Bangladesh via trade concessions, which critics dubbed a ‘dual-deficit and debt trap’, but also tried to use Bangladesh population for anti-Covid vaccine trial. Last week, Dhaka put on hold its earlier decision to allow the trial.

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