Rapidly evolving multi-modal ecosystem to boost trade in eastern region: CWBTA

Kolkata: The Indian economy, estimated to have contracted by 8 per cent in 2020, is coming out of the covid shock with the world’s largest corona vaccination program in progress. “The trade and commerce in the country and the eastern region is not only set to gradually pick up and rebound by the end of the current year, but also post robust growth over the next five years riding on the growing infrastructure projects and rapidly evolving multi-modal ecosystem in the country,” said Mr Sushil Poddar, President of Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations (CWBTA) – the apex trade body of eastern India.

The Confederation is organising the CWBTA Trade Excellence Award 2021 on 27 February 2021 in Kolkata to be attended by representatives of leading trade and commerce bodies, industrialists, trading houses and the diplomatic corps. The Trade Excellence Award 2021, would felicitate achievers in 14 different categories related to trade and commerce. The objective of CWBTA Trade Excellency Award is “… to encourage self-esteem of Traders and highlighting importance of Distributive Trade in Economic Growth,” said Mr Narender Kapadia, advisor to the CWBTA. “Trade Excellence Award is a great forum for recognising and awarding achievers who have contributed to sector,” said Mr V K Bhandari, Advisor CWBTA and Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Supertron.

“As Atmanirbhar India gears up to reach a target of $10 trillion economy by 2030 the Indian economy, there are many positive indicators pointing to a robust trade and commerce ecosystem in the next five years and eastern region would greatly benefit from it. The US$ 105 million project to develop the inland water transport system in Kolkata, West Bengal, signed by the Government of India, Government of West Bengal and the World Bank on January 5, 2021, is one such example. The union transport ministry has lined up bids for national highways worth about Rs 72,000 crore spanning about 2,600 km to be awarded by the end of the current quarter. This will give a major push to projects in the current financial year, which have been deeply impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the healthy economic growth of neighbouring Bangladesh would be an added advantage for regional trade,” Mr Rajesh Bhatia, Hony. General Secretary of Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations said.

According to a Bloomberg Intelligence report, the Indian economy would need to grow at an average annual rate of 9% and the GDP is projected to grow from $2.7 trillion in 2019 to $5 trillion by 2025 making Indian economy the third largest by 2026 as India graduates from a lower-middle-income to an upper-middle-income economy over the next decade.

CWBTA has conceptualised Trade Excellence Award so as to appreciate and recognise the role of Traders in the Economic growth of the region, Mr Bhatia said.

According to the World Bank, roads account for 65% of freight; the railways 27 per cent and inland waterways only 0.5 per cent. The rapid growth of multi-modal transport – still an evolving solution in India with different modes of transport in their various stages of evolution – will greatly enhance trade and commerce in the years ahead. Real examples of multi-modal transport are being seen in the Northeast where cargo is being transported to Guwahati through trucks, from where air cargo is being used to transport fresh produce to West Asian and other countries.

Similarly, the waterways are changing India’s multi-modal transport mix. The World Bank estimates India has approximately 14,500 km of navigable waterways but freight movement through waterways is just 0.5 per cent. However, according to the shipping ministry data, this has increased from 0.4 per cent to about 2 per cent over the last five to six years. The share of waterways could touch 4 to 5 per cent in 10 years.

“CWBTA has emerged as the apex trading body of eastern region to bring over 1.5 million traders under its fold and articulate their demands and concerns. With trade and commerce footprint and volume set to grow rapidly in the eastern region, CWBTA is geared up to act as a catalyst to promote regional trade and commerce,” Mr Poddar said.


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