Delhi urges Dhaka to remove port restrictions

SYFUL ISLAM | Saturday, 24 July 2021

New Delhi has reminded Dhaka again to remove port restrictions for smooth export of Indian goods using Bangladeshi land ports, officials said.

The giant neighbour in this case referred to its note verbale of September 2020 and the 13th meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Working Group on Trade held in February 2021, where the issue of removal of port restrictions was discussed.

In the note verbale and the meeting, the Indian authority made some specific requests on removal of port restrictions.

According to a recent letter, India wanted Bangladesh to allow one land port per border state without port restrictions or minimal negative list of restrictions starting with the Agartala-Akhaura integrated check post.

The neighbouring nation also requested for issuance of statutory regulatory order (SRO) for Sabroom-Ramgarh land port, and allowing export of railway sleepers, petroleum products, including diesel, natural riverbed sand, and pebbles through railways at the Haldibari-Chilahati land port.

Permission was also sought for export of chassis through the Bhomra land port and allowing export of yarn and fabric through Sonamasjid and Bhomra land ports, and also paper through Burimari and Banglabandha land ports.

India further sought to allow the export of additional products like engineering goods, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, cars, motors and auto parts, grey and white cement, marble slabs, solar panels, and project cargo through the Darshaan land port.

The export permission for cotton yarn, fabrics, water, juices and beverages, aluminium ingots and billets, granulated pig iron, blast furnace slag, pre-painted galvalume, hot rolled coil, cold rolled closed annealed, cold rolled full hard, and TMT bars also sought for the same land port.

The neighbour also requested for allowing export of tea through the Chatlapur land port in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh became the fifth-largest export destination of Indian goods this March, registering 11 per cent growth in importing goods from there.

A senior official at the Ministry of Commerce told the FE that Indian request was now under examination of the relevant Bangladeshi authorities and port restrictions would be eased gradually.

"It's a continuous process and will take time," said the official. Bangladeshi goods see huge non-tariff and para-tariff barriers, including port restrictions, while entering the neighbouring country, he said.

"Due to these barriers, Bangladesh could not cash in on the duty free and quota fee market access granted by India," he said, adding that Bangladesh's trade gap with the giant neighbour had been expanding every year.

According to the government data, Bangladesh exported goods worth US$1.096 billion to India against importing goods worth $5.793 billion in fiscal year 2019-20.

In the previous fiscal year, Bangladesh imported goods worth $7.647 billion from India, while its export was of $1.248 billion worth of goods.

In fiscal year 2017-18, Indian exports to Bangladesh stood at $8.621 billion against $873 million of imports.

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