GUWAHATI: In a move that is set to revitalise regional trade dynamics, the Bangladesh government has officially opened the doors of its Chattogram and Mongla Ports for Indian goods movement. This historic decision comes as a result of a decade-long initiative led by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) that began in 2009.
The journey towards this landmark development began when a senior delegation led by Mahesh Saharia, Chairman of the ICC’s North East Chapter, visited Bangladesh. The delegation held pivotal discussions with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina. Their conversations ignited a decade-long commitment to enhance bilateral trade ties, with a keen focus on leveraging the Chattogram and Mongla Ports for cross-border trade.
Saharia, highlighting the broader implications of this move, remarked, “While there will be a direct benefit to Northeast, this also paves the way for access to Bhutan and Nepal, marking a significant leap in the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) framework.”
Under the new terms, customs procedures, port time limits, and transit charges have been mutually agreed upon. Notably, the statutory order emphasises prioritising businesses keen on using these ports, particularly those targeting the Northeast.
In October 2019, the ICC took a monumental step by organising the inaugural India-Bangladesh Stakeholders Meet. Supported by the Assam government and Ministry of Commerce, the event convened key stakeholders from both nations, addressing key challenges and opportunities tied to port utilisation.
Sarat Jain, Chairman of the Assam & Meghalaya Chapter of ICC, lauded the initiative, expressing gratitude to the Bangladesh government. He underscored the vast potential this move has in fortifying the economic bonds of both nations, particularly benefiting businesses in the Northeast.
The port-access agreement stands as a testament to regional cooperation, expected to dramatically augment trade from the Northeast by ensuring faster transit and enhanced economic integration.