Dhaka, Delhi sign coastal shipping protocol, secretaries meet for further talks on Monday

Shipping secretaries of India and Bangladesh meet on Monday with both countries having signed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to set in motion an ‘Agreement on Coastal Shipping’.

New Delhi Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 16 Nov 2015, 05:22 AM
Updated : 16 Nov 2015, 06:54 AM

Senior officials of India’s ministry of shipping and Bangladesh’s shipping department signed the SOP in New Delhi on Sunday.

Indian Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari was present at the time of signing.

The countries had signed the Coastal Shipping Agreement in June.

Gadkari said, once in operation, the Coastal Shipping Agreement would lead to a considerable reduction in logistic costs of export-import transport between the two countries.

“The SOP has been framed as per the terms and conditions of the Agreement on Coastal Shipping and both India and Bangladesh have agreed to its provisions,” he said.

Indian Shipping Secretary Rajive Kumar and his Bangladesh counterpart Shafique Alam Mehdi were also present at the signing ceremony.

The SOP will help promote coastal shipping between India and Bangladesh and increase bilateral trade by cutting transport costs.

The SOP says India and Bangladesh will treat each other’s vessels in the same way that they threat their national vessels used in international sea transport.

The two sides have also agreed on the use of River Sea Vessel (RSV) type of craft for India-Bangladesh coastal waters.

Meanwhile, the two countries will also hold shipping secretary level talks on several issues on Monday.

They include an MoU on passenger and cruise vessel movement, a protocol to implement the MoU on use of the Mongla and Chittagong ports, payment of transit fees and bank guarantees, dredging of rivers on the designated route by using the Regional IDA Assistance from the World Bank, and upcoming port projects in Bangladesh.

India and Bangladesh have a bilateral Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) for operating inland vessels on river routes between the river ports of Haldia, Kolkata, Pandu, Karimganj and Silghat in India and Narayanganj, Khulna, Mongla, Sirajganj and Ashuganj in Bangladesh.

This understanding has facilitated two-way trade as well as the movement of cargo bound for the northeastern states of India.

Almost 98 percent of a total 1.8 million tonnes of cargo moved on the India-Bangladesh protocol route in 2013-14, shipped from Kolkata to various river ports in Bangladesh.

In the current financial year, India, for the first time, is using a river route chalked out by the understanding to transport grains to Tripura via Ashuganj.

But the volume of cargo has not sizeably increased due to low draft in the upper reaches of Bangladesh rivers and certain non-trade barriers.

Rapid growth in trade between the two countries has led to traffic congestion on Indo-Bangla border roads, Land Customs Stations, and integrated checkpoints.

The traffic jam at Petrapole, on the Indian side, and Benapole, in Bangladesh, has become a major impediment to cargo movement.

The congestion, leading to delivery delays, is increasing the transport cost incurred by exporters and importers on both sides.