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India Goods To Reach Dhaka By Water In 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Businessmen will be able to transport consumer goods from India by water all the way to Dhaka and Narayanganj by middle of June next year, officials said Tuesday.

Ending a two-day negotiation, Bangladesh and India renewed the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, first signed in 1972, for two more years.

Officials of the two countries said cargo unloading facilities in Dhaka and Narayanganj would help Bangladeshi consumers to get commodities at much cheaper prices.

At present, a small portion of cargo, mainly cement raw materials and crude oil, comes from India by waterways using Khulna and Sirajganj jetties.

Delegation heads of both the countries termed the existing volume of inland trade "very small".

But acting shipping secretary Masud Elahi was enthusiastic about the new cargo facilities.

"This gives us an opportunity to enhance the existing inland water trade with India," Elahi told reporters, after the protocol signing at the Sonargaon Hotel.

Head of the Indian delegation, additional secretary Vijay Chhibber said: "We have been advised by the Bangladesh delegation that a container freight station at Narayanganj is close to finalisation … and it should be ready by June or July."

"Similarly we are very happy to be informed by the Bangladesh authorities that in Dhaka itself the container freight facilities will be ready by middle of next year."

Chhibber said the two developments would be "extremely beneficial" for the growth of inland water trade between Bangladesh and India.

"Obviously we are very happy to participate in this process."

"And not only would this benefit further flow of trade, but the biggest beneficiary would be the Bangladesh consumers."

"So, it is a win-win situation," said Chhibber.

The Indian delegation chief said more ports of call could be used to enhance the level of inland water trade.

"How do we take it to higher levels; obviously is to include more ports of call," said Chhibber.

He said a joint-technical committee was formed after a previous similar meeting in Delhi in 2007.

"The technical committee must look at the feasibility of using these ports of call. Certain infrastructure is required, certain depth of movement of vessels is required," said Chhibber.

"And what has been agreed … jointly a consensus must emerge to which are the ports of call that can be added to the protocol," he said.

India has been demanding that Ashuganj should be included as port of call to boost inland water trade with Bangladesh.

Samiur Rahman Chowdhury, managing director of Atlas Shipping Lines Limited, told that around 100 Bangladeshi cargo ships a month go to India for import of cement raw materials, fruits and crude oil.

"But the number of Indian ships coming to Bangladesh is coming down day by day.

"On an average, two to three Indian cargo vessels come to Bangladesh a month," said Chowdhury.

Bangladesh and India signed the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade in 1972 in the light of an Indira-Mujib agreement the same year.

According to the agreement, Bangladesh and India can use each other's roads, water and railways. But the shared use of road and railway has yet to be fully implemented.


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