India plans connectivity to Bangladesh’s Matarbari Port

  • January 9, 2024
  • News

India is considering connecting Matarbari Port to the northeastern states. Bangladesh is looking forward to increasing its exports with the construction of the country’s first deep sea port in Matarbari, which is being built with the help of Japan. The new port will not only improve the country’s ability to handle cargo from international markets, but also enable it to enhance its exports to Southeast Asia, and other Asian markets.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is helping Bangladesh finance the Matarbari project, which aims to enhance the port’s cargo-handling capacity and streamline logistics operations with neighbouring countries. The project includes the construction of a multi-purpose deep-sea port for containers and general cargo in the Matarbari area of Cox’s Bazar, under the Chattogram division. This initiative is expected to contribute significantly to Bangladesh’s economic growth. Earlier this year, JICA granted a $750 million loan to the Bangladesh government for the Matarbari development.

The Matarbari port is set to start operations in 2027, which will reduce the burden on crowded ports like Chittagong. In March, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) extended an additional $400 million loan to enhance road infrastructure between Chittagong Port and Cox’s Bazaar, improving road connectivity to the Matarbari port. The new Matarbari port is expected to strengthen economic ties and open up new development prospects for India’s northeastern states, including Tripura. The initiative is a result of the plans by Japan, Bangladesh, and India to attract manufacturing to the Northeast and Bangladesh and to establish a new industrial value chain in South Asia for exports to Indo-Pacific markets.

According to sources, India is actively exploring ways to enhance connectivity to Matarbari, either through a bilateral initiative or in partnership with Japan, which is already engaged in major road connectivity projects in Bangladesh.

No response was received until press time from queries sent to the external affairs ministry and Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi. New Delhi is taking proactive measures to enhance connectivity with Bangladesh, which will promote bilateral trade and economic ties in South Asia. These initiatives include reviving cross-border railway projects, constructing energy pipelines, and sponsoring road projects in Bangladesh.

India is also showing interest in the Bay of Bengal Northeast Industrial Value Chain concept led by Japan. This project will result in increased infrastructure connectivity and synchronized trade policies between New Delhi, Dhaka, and Tokyo. Concerns have been raised about China’s growing presence in Bangladesh. Beijing was initially interested in financing a deep sea port in Sonadia in the southeastern part of the country. However, Sheikh Hasina’s government decided to cancel the plan in 2020 and focus on building a port at Matarbari in collaboration with Japan. News reports at the time suggested that New Delhi was opposed to the Sonadia port project.
India recognizes China’s significant presence in the region and has shifted its focus towards resolving disputes and strengthening bilateral relations through connectivity and economic prospects.