India, Bangladesh ink pact to enhance bilateral trade

Sunday, Nov 15, 2015,15:43 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | India and Bangladesh today signed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for operationalising the ‘Agreement on Coastal Shipping’, signed in June this year, a move that will improve the bilateral trade between the two countries by reducing the logistic costs.

The SOP was signed by the Joint DG (Shipping) Ministry of Shipping, India and Chief Engineer & Ship Surveyor, Department of Shipping, Bangladesh in the presence of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari here today, an official statement said. Speaking on the occasion, Road, Highways and Shipping Minister Gadkari said that once the SOP is operational, the Coastal Shipping Agreement will enable a huge saving in logistic costs of EXIM transport between the two countries.

The SOP has been framed as per the terms and conditions of the Agreement on Coastal Shipping and both the countries have agreed to its provisions, he added. Shipping Secretary Rajive Kumar and Bangladesh’s Secretary of Shipping Shafique Alam Mehdi were also present on the occasion. The SOP will pave the way to promote coastal shipping between India and Bangladesh and would enhance bilateral trade by bringing down the cost of transportation of EXIM cargo, the statement said.

It contains provisions which stipulate that India and Bangladesh shall render same treatment to other country’s vessels as they would have done to their national vessels used in international sea transportation, it added. The two sides have also agreed upon the use of vessels of River Sea Vessel (RSV) category for Indo-Bangladesh coastal shipping. The two countries will also hold Shipping Secretary level talks tomorrow, which will cover issues relating to MoU on passenger and cruise vessel movement.

There will also be discussion on the protocol to operationalise the MoU on use of Mongla and Chittagong ports, payment of transit fees and bank guarantee, dredging of rivers in the protocol route using Regional IDA Assistance of World Bank Assistance and various upcoming port projects in Bangladesh, the statement said.

The agreement will enable opening of coastal shipping between India and Bangladesh helping in enhancing the movement of cargo to the North East through coastal shipping up to Chittagong and thereafter by road/inland waterways. The deep draft ports on the eastern coast of India can be hub ports for the onward transportation of cargo to Bangladesh via the coastal mode through RSV category of vessels, the statement said enumerating the advantages of the agreement.

The Indian ports will attract enhanced cargo and also the overall transportation cost to Bangladesh will get reduced. The Indian ports serving as trans-shipment ports for Bangladesh cargo will derive benefits by way of enhanced throughput as a result of Indo-Bangladesh coastal trade, it added.