Phub Dem 

The Bangladesh government agreed to designate new ‘ports of call’ for use by Bhutan from Aricha, Chilmari, Sirajganj, Mongla, Chattogram and Payra Port.

This was assured during the meeting between the Bhutanese and Bangladeshi delegation in Dhaka earlier last week.

A port of call is a place to stop for a while to load and unload consignments.

According to a press release from the Department of Trade (DoT), these ports of call will be formalised upon the signing of the revised standard operating procedure (SOP) between the two countries.

The new provisions were agreed upon when the Bhutanese delegation met with the Ministry of Shipping and related stakeholders in continuation to the second Joint Technical Committee (JTC) meeting to amend the SOP for the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Use of Inland Waterways between Bangladesh and Bhutan.

The Bangladesh delegation was led by the joint secretary of the Ministry of Shipping,  A.T.M Monemul Haque and the Bhutanese delegation was led by the director general of the DoT, Sonam Tenzin.

According to the Sonam Tenzin, Bhutan has only one port of call as of today, which is Narayanganji in Dhaka.

However, he said that the revised SOP provides the flexibility to have numerous places especially along the Brahmaputra basin before reaching the Bay of Bengal to unload the boulder exports and make many trips.

“The revision and addition of new ports of call are good for the exports,” he said.

The Bangladesh government also agreed to consider Bahadurabad as an extended port of call for Chilmari.

Sonam Tenzin said that currently extended port of call at Bahaduradad has no custom services but the exporters can still facilitate loading and unloading after completing customs formalities at Chilmari.

The press release stated that the agreement and the amendment of the SOP with the new ports of call are expected to provide alternative export and import transit routes and modes of transportation for the private sector.

It stated that the agreement would also help to promote, facilitate, expand and deepen trade relations between Bhutan and Bangladesh and complement the Preferential Trade Agreement that will come into effect from July 1.

During the prime minister’s four-day state visit to Bangladesh in 2019, four different routes from the seaports of Chittagong, Mongla, Payra and Narayanganj to Daikhawa in Bangladesh have been identified with the scope of new routes or discontinuation of existing routes depending on convenience in future.

Meanwhile, the delegations also convened the Third Joint Working Group (JWG) Meeting on the Agreement on the Movement of Traffic (Goods) in Transit on June 1.

The Bangladesh delegation was led by the joint secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Md. Abdus Samad Al Azad.

The press release stated that the meeting finalised the text of the agreement and its protocol. “The agreement and protocol will be tabled at the Commerce Secretary Level Meeting of the two governments for endorsement and subsequently to the Parliament for ratification.”

It also stated that once ratified by the two respective countries, Bhutan can facilitate the movement of goods in transit (both imports and exports) through Bangladesh including the exit through the seaports of Mongla, Payra and Chattogram.

The Bhutanese delegation includes representatives from the Ministry of Economic Affair, Road Safety and Transport Authority, Ministry of Information and Communication, Department of Revenue and Customs, Ministry of Finance and the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Dhaka.