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Cabinet clears BD-India Coastal Shipping draft deal

WT24 Desk

The Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of the ‘Agreement on Coastal  Shipping between the government of Bangladesh and India’ initiated a few days back in a bid to save time and cost in transportation of goods through sea and river routes between the two countries, UNB reports. The approval came from the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the draft deal was initiated when Bangladesh Shipping Secretary Shafique Alam Mehdi and India’s Shipping Secretary Rajive Kumar signed the draft agreement on April 20 in New Delhi. He said it is expected that the final agreement will be signed during the upcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh.

When the agreement comes into effect both time and money will be saved in transportation of goods between the two countries, he said. “Once the agreement is signed, both the countries would be benefited as there’ll be increased economic cooperation and connectivity.” For transporting goods between Bangladesh and India, the consignment has to be sent to Colombo or Singapore first for now. And then it will be shipped to any port in India or Bangladesh.

Under the draft agreement, the Cabinet Secretary said, Bangladeshi sea and river borne cargo ships would be able to go to India along the coastal line vice versa the Indian sea and river borne cargo ships would also be able to come to Bangladesh. He said it would reduce the time and transportation cost significantly as once the agreement comes into effect, a Bangladeshi cargo ship would need four to five days to reach India which now requires two to three weeks.

Under the draft agreement, the Cabinet Secretary said, the cargo ships of both the countries would get equal opportunities like access to water and ports, embarkation and disembarkation. The war ships, research vessels, scientific or oceanographic research vessels, paramilitary forces movement vessels would remain outside the purview of the agreement. The Directorate General of Shipping of India and Department of Shipping of Bangladesh would play a key role in implementing the agreement.

He said that for implementing the agreement, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is being framed and it would be finalised soon. The tenure of the agreement would be five years and it would have auto renewal provision. He said any party could terminate the agreement giving a six-month notice. Besides, there will be a joint shipping committee to review the agreement from time to time.

Besides, the cabinet secretary said the meeting was apprised of the participation of the Fisheries and Livestock Minister in the Strategy Meeting for Global Action Network for Blue Growth and Food Security held in the Caribbean island of Granada on March 11-13. Ministers and State Minters attended the meeting. Secretaries concerned were also present.

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