Bangladesh allows India access to its main ports to ship goods to its own territory

Bangladesh has granted India permission to ship goods from one Indian state to another through Bangladesh’s major ports, under an agreement signed between neighboring countries in 2018.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) in Bangladesh issued a standing order on Tuesday.

The order for continuous passage was issued by the NBR after the completion of trial runs for commissioning and regular movement of goods, the order said.

Bangladeshi ports, the NBR, Customs and other taxing parties involved impose certain fees in accordance with the country’s tax and VAT laws. These include fees for documentation, transshipment, security, scanning, administration fees, an electric lock and seal fee, and tolls for using Bangladesh’s roads, the order said.

As a result, India will be able to use the Chattogram and Mongla seaports for transit and transshipment to move goods to and from India via the territory of Bangladesh.

Chattogram Port, Bangladesh’s main seaport, is located on the banks of the Karnaphuli River in the south-east of the country and handles over 90% of the country’s export-import trade.

Mongla Port, the country’s second largest seaport, is located near the coast of the Bay of Bengal.

India will receive the facility under an agreement to use the ports of Chattogram and Mongla that was signed in 2018. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for passenger and cruise services was also signed in 2019.

India used to take a lot of time to ship goods to its northeastern states. The new arrangement will reduce both time and costs for India, officials from both countries recently told reporters after bilateral meetings.

Northeast Indian states include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.

Bangladesh Shipping Minister Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said earlier this week at an event in the Indian state of Tripura that Bangladesh port authorities are able to handle goods at full speed.

Also, an agreement has been signed between Bangladesh and India to use inland waterway transit to transport goods through Bangladesh from West Bengal to the seven eastern states of India, he added.

He described the agreement as a “step forward” in implementing the commitment made at meetings between Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi.

There are a total of 16 routes between the two ports and the northeast Indian states, according to the NBR announcement.

The development will drastically reduce the cost and time involved in transferring goods from one state to another for India. For example, the land route between India’s Calcutta and the northeastern states is more than 1,200 kilometers (745 miles), while the ports of Chattogram and Mongla are almost half the distance.

However, critics claim that until such a facility opens in Bangladesh and countries in the region, including Nepal and Bhutan, it will be a unilateral gain for India.

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