India’s North Eastern Region Set Become A Major Hub for BIMSTEC Nations

Owing to the geostrategic location of India’s North Eastern Region (NER), the boost to connectivity, greater trade and people’s movement will set the agenda of the secretary-level talks to be held on Oct 24-26 in New Delhi between India and Bangladesh. The NER holds the significant position in the existing economic ties among its seven member states, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal (BIMSTEC).

India and Bangladesh are are going ink an agreement to amend the existing protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade for determining a new port of call in both the countries. A 14-member delegation from Bangladesh to be headed by Secretary Shipping, Abdus Samad is likely to reach Delhi tomorrow. Earlier, the delegation was expected to be led by minister Shipping of Bangladesh Shajahan Khan who was visiting at the invitation of Minister Shipping Nitin Gadkari to sign agreements related to connectivity.

In the talk of the ports, the transportation of goods from to and from NER via Chittagong and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh will set the agenda of discussions between the two sides.

Official sources have confirmed that Bangladesh has informed India that facilities at Chittagong and Mongla Ports have the capacity to handle extra loads and in return, India is expected to allow the use of Kolkata and Haldia Ports for transportation of Bangladeshi goods including garments and textiles garments to South Asian countries.

According to sources, the provisions of the agreement state that the use of the two Bangladeshi Ports will be valid for five years and have provisions for further renewal for another five years. However, either side holds the right to cancel the agreement with a six month notice period.

Under the proposal, Indian goods can be transported through four entry points at Agartala-Akhoura, Tamabil-Dawki, Sheola-Sutarkandi and Srimantapur (Tripura)-Camilla. Also, the two neighbours are expected to finalise the standard operating procedure (SPO), which has already been cleared by the Bangladesh Cabinet last month.

The two sides will negotiate to grant permission for passenger travel across the two countries through cruise ships. A separate SOP will be signed to allow cruise ships to operate across the two countries.

The cruise service to be operated by private parties, which will fix the fares and related charges, has been proposed to allow Indian passengers to travel to Mongla, Dhaka, Chattogram and Cox’s Bazaar while passengers from Bangladesh can travel to Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Chennai.

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