Bangladesh’s Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of a proposed agreement with India to allow it to use the Chittagong and Mongla sea ports for transporting goods to and from its land-locked northeastern states. The decision is another step in improving the friendly relations between Bangladesh and India, Cabinet Secretary Shafiul Alam said.
The draft says the agreement would be effective for five years with a provision of automatic renewal for another five years while either of the countries could scrap it giving a six-month notice.
“The agreement would allow India to use Chattogram (Chittagong) and Mongla ports to carry goods to their northeastern states in a very short time,” Alam said after a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“A draft of the communication network being built for connectivity between the Chattogram and Mongla ports has been approved for India’s signing. One of the provisions says that Nepal and Bhutan can be added to the agreement if they wish,” he said.
Four routes were suggested for goods movements which are – Chattagram Port/Mongla Port-Agartala via Akhaura, Chattagram/Mongla-Daouki via Tamabil, Chattagram/ Mongla-Sutarkandi via Sheola, and Chattagram/Mongla-Bibekbazar via Simantapur.
But, Alam said, under the agreement only Bangladeshi vehicles and vessels would be used to carry the goods inside Bangladesh. A tracking system will be used to monitor the cargo moving through Bangladesh, he said.
He said however, India would have to follow the international General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) as well as Bangladeshi laws and rules in carrying the goods.
The agreement suggested Bangladesh’s tax authorities would take bond equivalent to duties and taxes from Indian companies while charges, fees and carrying cost will be charged according to GATT in addition to regular duty and taxes.
The draft deal said Bangladeshi authorities would use tracking systems like global positioning system (GPS), e-lock and e-seal to identify the goods carrying vessels.
“A major objective of the proposed agreement was to strengthen the existing cordial bilateral ties,” Alam said.