a year ago

Wider customs transit planned for faster cross-border trade

Bangladesh needs to adopt TIR, activate MVA

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An initiative gets going with World Bank assistance to simplify cross-border trade with the widest transit coverage through improving transport and customs facilities across Bangladesh's 23 frontier ports, officials have said.

To this effect, Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has already taken up a Tk 1.27 billion worth of technical-assistance project for conducting feasibility study on framing the preparatory facility and policy developments under regional-connectivity programme, they added.

The cross-border-trade facilities and regional connectivity will be upgraded through activating the Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) and adopting TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers, International Road Transport) Convention by customs department.

With over 66 countries using the procedure, the TIR system is the international customs transit system with the widest geographical coverage.

With financial support from the World Bank, the RHD has proposed the project titled 'TA for Regional Connectivity Preparatory Facilities and Policy Development for MVA and TIR Convention' to implement it between January 2023 and December 2026.

Out of the Tk 1.271-billion cost, the World Bank will provide some Tk 874.32 million while the remaining funds will come from government's own resources.

An RHD official told the FE that the proposed TA project will help them formulate the preparatory works of enhancing the regional connectivity and for adopting the TIR which eases the customs complexities among the cross-border ports in the regional countries.

"For example, if a goods-laden truck starts from Bangladesh for Bhutan, it need not check in at all the customs stations at different exit and entre points of the nations on the route. The truck will only complete the customs procedure at its entry port and at the exit port. It need not face all the customs houses at the ports in different countries," he says as to how the mechanism would accelerate intra-regional trade delivery.

The RHD official believes the proposed project will help in upgrading the procedure under the TIR framework.

"Besides, experts under the project will also suggest us about the necessary improvement scope of the road, rail and water-transport facilities and their necessary infrastructures," he adds.

Bangladesh in June 2015 signed the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) with India, Nepal and Bhutan for facilitating regional road connectivity and trade.

Besides, some important regional networks like the SASEC corridor, Asian Highway Network, and Trans-Asian Railway Network have touched Bangladesh territories.

People in business circles say Bangladesh's trade gateway in the ports for handling traffic and cargo is poor that wastes time and hampers cross-border and regional trade.

"We have sent the project proposal to the Planning Commission for getting approval. After the endorsement, we will appoint consultants to formulate the framework and policies," another RHD official said.

On completion of the TA project they will go for investment scheme for upgrading the necessary connectivity and simplifying the customs procedures.

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