Northeast India is not what it was 10 years back. It is emerging as a major retail destination lately. Low rental values and price, large availability of commercial spaces and the fashion-conscious youth in the seven sister states (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura) are now leading big players (both domestic and global including names like Big Bazaar, Pantaloons, Future Value Retail and many more) to consolidate their position in the region.
It is emerging as a magnet for upscale apparel and accessories labels, from sports to fashionwear alike.
However, a major problem that retailers face often is that of transportation! Isolated from mainland India due to geographical bottleneck, reaching market on time, especially in today’s age of fast fashion, is a big challenge for the brands and retailers. Under the given scenario Bangladesh is a better sourcing option, given its proximity with the Northeast.
And now with the 15.054 km long Agartala-Akhaura rail project in West Tripura (which will connect Akhaura in Bangladesh with Agartala through Nischintapur) being constructed simultaneously with a bridge over River Feni (which would connect Sabroom in South Tripura with Feni district of Bangladesh, and once operational, Tripura would be only 66 km away from Chittagong Port in Bangladesh), transportation would be lightning fast.
Even the Governments of respective countries are keen to exploit the same to the fullest and why not after all India is now Bangladesh’s major export destination as far as garments are concerned.
“…I truly believe that India is an important market for Bangladesh garment manufacturers as people are same as here and have similar taste, so understanding preferences and market trends is not so difficult. Also, proximity is very critical… With this advantage Bangladesh can be the ‘Turkey’ of India, turning around fashion quickly,” maintained Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi speaking earlier to Apparel Resources.
Even the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh sees Tripura as a vital cog towards strengthening trade ties with Bangladesh.
“We discussed how to increase trade and commerce between India and Bangladesh. Tripura has got a big role on that,” stated India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly interacting with the media recently after a one-on-one with Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb to discuss on this issue.
Given the rising importance of Tripura, it would not be surprising to see the state turning out to be the principal RMG export gateway not only for the Northeast but also for the Eastern part of India as a whole in the days to come.