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Friday, June 19, 2015, Ashar 5, 1422 BS, Ramadan 1, 1436 Hijr

Trade Agreement
Bangladesh, India won't get free transit
Saleem Samad
Published : Friday, 19 June, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 133

Neither Bangladesh nor India will get free transit and transhipment facilities as defined in the recently revised trade agreement, which has been dubbed as "a milestone" in Bangladesh-India relations.
The Cabinet in April approved the revised trade deal with India under which the two nations would be able to use each other's land and water routes for sending goods to a third country, removing a long standing barrier to regional trade.
Under the agreement Bangladesh will be able to use Indian, roads, railways and waterways in transhipment of goods to Bhutan and Nepal, said Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan.
He said under the deal India would also be able to send goods to Myanmar through Bangladesh. It incorporated a provision that the deal would be renewed automatically after five years if either of the countries did not have any objection.
Cabinet Secretary said Bangladesh and India would pay the same fees for transporting goods. It's a win-win situation for both sides.
The agreement states that all payments and charges in connection with trade between the two countries shall continue to be effected in freely convertible currencies. The payment includes surcharge, taxes, and other fees which will be paid individually by both parties.
However, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) officials said that the revenue authorities, Shipping Ministry, and Roads and Highways Departments of both the countries will soon hold parleys to fix the transit fees.
Officials familiar with the process said Kathmandu and Thimphu had identical agreement with India but Bangladesh's trade with Nepal and Bhutan were being hindered for want of such a treaty with New Delhi.
Under the revised deal, trucks from Nepal and Bhutan would enter Bangladesh through the Indian corridors while previously they were required to park at a specific point along the Indian border where goods from Bangladesh were uploaded.
India and Bangladesh had their original trade agreement signed in 1972 but under that deal, which expired on March 31 this year, trade could only be done between the two neighbours.
Officials said the proposed deal would be in force for five years instead of the existing tenure of three years and the fees and charges would be fixed through discussions between the two countries.
An NBR official said the new deal will earn a huge amount of revenue from India by allowing it access to Bangladesh territory. But, he could not state the estimated amount Bangladesh is expected to earn from transhipment.
India exports goods worth over $5 billion a year to Bangladesh under formal channels while it is believed that products worth around another $5 billion enter Bangladesh informally.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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