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Bangladesh seaport hopes for Northeast

The implementation of the ‘Agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Port’ (ACMP) for the movement of goods

Bangladesh

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  22 Sep 2022 3:16 AM GMT

The implementation of the 'Agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Port' (ACMP) for the movement of goods to and from India through Bangladesh is gaining momentum with the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) facilitating trial runs of consignments through land ports in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya. Full operationalization of the ACMP is expected to turn the landlocked northeast region into a major commercial hub in South Asia. A trial run of a cargo of steel bars was sent from Kolkata port on September 3 to Assam through Chittagong sea port-Sheloalandi port route to operationalize the ACMP. The LPAI facilitating the cargo through Integrated Check Post, Sutarkandi in Assam on the India side of the Sheola-Sutarkandi border crossing marked the significant improvement in connectivity and infrastructure for cross-border movement of goods between India and Bangladesh. The return cargo, a consignment of tea leaves from Meghalaya reached Chittagong port on September 13 through the Tamabil Land Custom Station in Sylhet across Integrated Check Post at Dawki on way to the final destination — Kolkata. It was for the first time that India used a land port in Sylhet for goods movement between Kolkata and the Northeast. The trial runs boosted the confidence of both the countries in using Chittagong and Mongla ports for the movement of goods between the Northeast and the rest of India through Bangladesh's territory saving time and reducing transportation costs. The alternative routes through the seaports and land ports of Bangladesh reduce the long distance of about 1200 km through Chicken Neck Corridor to almost half. Earlier last month, the LPAI also facilitated a successful trial run of an experimental cargo from Kolkata to Silchar via Srimantapur Land Custom Station in Tripura through the Mongla seaport in Bangladesh. A smooth and successful run of the consignments is expected to prompt Shipping Ministry to finalize the Standard Operating Procedure under the ACMP for regular transit of goods between the rest of India and its northeast region by using the two Bangladesh seaports. The ACMP exempts the goods being carried under the agreement from routine physical customs inspection en route except when customs authorities suspect irregularities. Besides, authorities of two ports will provide facilities, to the goods being transported under the agreement, no less favourable than what would be accorded to exports or imports from Bangladesh and shall endeavour to provide priority space at their ports for goods being transported under the Agreement, provided that such space and facility is available in the ports. The agreement states that any transportation within Bangladesh shall be done using only Bangladeshi Vehicles or Bangladeshi Vessels till the Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between and among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN MVA) comes into force. The BBIN MVA will facilitate seamless passenger and personal traffic besides cargo movement in the sub-region. The enabling Memorandum of Understanding to be signed for operationalization of the BBIN was finalized in March but is awaiting ratification by Bhutan. This ACMP came into force on October 25, 2018, and remains in force till 2023 with automatic renewal for successive periods of five years unless either India or Bangladesh seeks to terminate it with six months prior notice. Visit the ICP Sutarkandi located about 15 km off Karimganj town by a delegation of the Asian Development Bank and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited last week and discuss cross-border trade, land acquisition and construction of a four-lane connecting the zero line on India-Bangladesh border demonstrated India prioritizing the use of Bangladesh seaport and territory for faster transport of goods to and from the northeast region. During the recent visit to India by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bangladesh Prime Minister welcomed the successful completion of trial runs under the ACMP and looked forward to its full operationalization at the earliest which has brightened fresh hopes for States in the northeast region of unlocking their trade potential. These states being consuming can hope to cut down transportation costs of essential commodities procured from outside the region after the ACMP is fully operationalized. The two sides also agreed to expeditiously explore direct shipping links between the two countries. According to an official release, the Indian side informed that it has offered free transit via its territory to Bangladesh for exporting its products to third countries through specified Land Customs Stations/Airports/Seaports and invited the Bangladesh business community for using its port infrastructure for transhipment to third countries. India has also been providing free transit to Bangladesh for exporting its products to Nepal and Bhutan. The return cargo under ACMP will increase the marketability of goods from the region in other states with reduced cost of transportation. Full operationalization of ACMP will open a new window of opportunities for the landlocked northeast.

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