The decision, considered a new phase in connectivity between the two countries, was agreed upon when Bangladesh shipping secretary Md. Abdus Samad met his Indian counterpart Gopal Krishna at the shipping secretary-level talks in Dhaka last week, officials told ET.
Earlier, the Standard Operating Procedures to allow transhipment of Indian goods to and fro from landlocked north-eastern states was agreed upon during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina‘s visit to Delhi in October. The move will give further push to India’s Act East policy by connecting north-eastern states with SE Asia.
Bangladesh expects that such connectivity between the countries will open up greater economic opportunities, strengthen infrastructure and boost business, according to Dhaka-based officials.
“We are yet to decide the date of the first trial run, but it is likely to be in January next year. A container cargo is likely to operate either through Chittagong Port or Mongla Port to the Indian state of Tripura through the Agartala and Akhaura river routes,” said Abdus Samad.
Customs fees are not applicable as it is a bilateral agreement between the two countries. But India will pay duties and taxes as per Bangladesh’s tariff schedule for ports. It will also pay fees for using roads in line with the policy of the Bangladesh Road and Highways Division, officials said.
Seven routes have been suggested for the movement of goods and passenger vessels between north-eastern states and two ports. These include Chittagong Port or Mongla Port to Agartala via Akhaura; Chittagong or Mongla port to Dawki via Tamabil; Chittagong or Mongla port to Sutarkandi via Sheola; and Chittagong or Mongla to Bibekbazar via Simantapur.
Meanwhile, passengers travelling on cruise ships to India and Bangladesh will get on-arrival visas at the ports. It may be recalled that operations of cruise ships from Narayanganj (Bangladesh) to Kolkata began on a trial basis in March this year.