Neighbourhood First: India-Bangladesh to ink agreements related to connectivity later this week

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New Delhi | October 22, 2018 8:42 PM

Given the geostrategic location of India's North Eastern region (NER), further boost to connectivity, greater trade and people’s movement will top the agenda of the secretary-level talks scheduled for Oct 24-26 in New Delhi.

India-Bangladesh, agreements, boost to connectivity, trade, Chittagong, Mongla Ports, defence newsPM Narendra Modi with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. (File photo: Reuters)

Given the geostrategic location of India’s North Eastern region (NER), further boost to connectivity, greater trade and people’s movement will top the agenda of the secretary-level talks scheduled for Oct 24-26 in New Delhi. The NER is very important in the existing economic ties among its seven member states, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal (BIMSTEC).

Transportation of goods from to and from NER via Chittagong and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh will be topping the agenda of discussions between the two sides. Official sources have confirmed that Dhaka has informed New Delhi that facilities at Chittagong and Mongla Ports have the capacity to handle extra loads and in return, New Delhi is expected to allow use of Kolkata and Haldia Ports for transportation of Bangladeshi goods including garments and textiles garments to South Asian countries.

Both are also going ink an agreement to amend the existing protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade for determining a new port of call in both the countries. A 14-member delegation from Bangladesh to be headed by Secretary Shipping, Abdus Samad is likely to reach Delhi tomorrow. Earlier the delegation was expected to be led by minister Shipping of Bangladesh Shajahan Khan who was visiting at the invitation of Minister Shipping Nitin Gadkari to sign agreements related to connectivity.

Now, sources have clarified that the official-level discussion will go ahead and that three agreements are expected to be inked at the end of the dialogue. According to sources, the provisions of the agreement state that the use of the two Bangladeshi Ports will be valid for five years and have provisions for further renewal for another five years. However, either side will have the right to cancel the agreement with a six month notice period.

Under the proposal Indian goods can be transported through four entry points at Agartala-Akhoura, Tamabil-Dawki, Sheola-Sutarkandi and Srimantapur (Tripura)-Camilla. Also, the two neighbours are expected to finalise the standard operating procedure (SPO), which has already been cleared by the Bangladesh Cabinet last month.

The two sides will negotiate granting permission for passenger travel across the two countries through cruise ships. A separate SOP will be signed to allow cruise ships to operate across the two countries.

The cruise service to be operated by private parties, which will fix the fares and related charges, has been proposed to allow Indian passengers to travel to Mongla, Dhaka, Chattogram and Cox’s Bazaar while passengers from Bangladesh can travel to Kolkata, Visahapatnam and Chennai.

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