Finalisation of transit fees likely today

A two-day shipping secretary-level meeting between Bangladesh and India began in the capital on Wednesday.

On the opening day, standing committees of both the countries discussed various issues, including new port calls and new routes, dredging, customs, immigration arrangements, berthing facilities and night navigation.

The local side was led by additional secretary of the ministry of shipping Bhola Nath Dey; while Rajat Sachar, a senior economic adviser to the ministry of shipping, led the Indian side.

The local shipping ministry officials attending the meeting said the standing committees were able to fix a number of agenda to be discussed on the second and concluding day of the talks on Thursday.

Shipping secretary Abdus Samad of Bangladesh and his counterpart Gopal Krishna will represent their respective side at the meeting.

The officials said finalisation of transit fees for using Mongla and Chattogram ports by Indian vessels for transhipment of goods would top the agenda of the secretary level meeting.

India had been pressing Bangladesh and was able to convince the Awami League-led government to strike a memorandum of understanding on the use of Mongla and Chattogram ports on June 6, 2015, and an agreement on October 25, 2018.

The standard operation procedure on the use of the country’s two main sea ports was signed during prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi in October 3-6, 2019.

But the fees and others issues including supporting documents, advance filing and processing of declarations, electronic lock and seal modalities and entry of Bangladesh trucks into India are yet to be settled.

Financial modalities for dredging of a river between Rajshahi and Paksi inside Bangladesh and proposal for declaring Muktarpur, Narayanganj, Pangan as new ports of call in addition to present Ashuganj have been included in the agenda.

Facilitation of movement of ‘Third Country’ EXIM trade under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between two countries will also be discussed at the meeting.

The previous secretary-level meeting was held in Delhi in 2018.