Bangladesh remains non-committal about Indian proposal to use the latter's sea ports by Bangladeshi shippers.
When contacted, shipping secretary Abdus Samad told the FE that Bangladesh would take decision on the proposal after evaluating the pros and cons.
"We shall take opinions of business community, port authorities and other stakeholders. If the stakeholders recommend this, we will discuss on this proposal", he said.
The shipping secretary said after evaluating the reports from the stakeholders, the ministry can say whether it will accept the proposal or not.
Currently, ships are allowed to transport bilateral cargos from Kolkata and Haldia ports, but they cannot carry international cargos, which is banned under a coastal shipping agreement. Both Kolkata and Haldia have ample capacity to handle the volume.
Officials said they will finalise their decision keeping the interests of Bangladesh's Chittagong and Mongla ports in mind as their capacity is rising.
Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) is constructing several terminals to enhance its capacity. The Bay Terminal alone will have 13 jetties, which will improve cargo-handling capability significantly.
Besides, the construction of Patenga Container Terminal (PCT), with a 250,000-TEU annual capacity, is proceeding in full swing.
On the other hand, projects are underway to enhance the Mongla port's capacity, including Pangaon Inland Container Terminal (PICT), while construction of the country's third seaport at Payra is about to start, with the dredging of its main channel.
This issue should be dealt with keeping these factors in mind, officials said.
Mr Samad said the issue may be discussed in the upcoming shipping secretary-level talks scheduled for October 24-25.
A few months ago, Kolkata Port Trust invited the Bangladesh authority to use its ports for handling international trade.
They argued that the use of Kolkata and Haldia ports by Bangladeshi shippers will be an option for those who want to avoid congestion at the Chittagong port.
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