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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh, India sign draft coastal shipping agreement

Update : 29 Apr 2015, 03:37 PM

Bangladesh and India have signed the final draft of a bilateral agreement on coastal shipping to allow river vessels to travel between the neighbouring countries during a secretary-level meeting held at New Delhi.

Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan confirmed this at a press conference in the Secretariat on Wednesday.

“The final agreement will be signed when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Bangladesh,” the minister said.

A 12-member delegation from Bangladesh led by Shipping Secretary Shafique Alam Mehdi visited New Delhi on April 20-22 for this purpose.

“This agreement will boost export-import trade between Bangladesh and India,” the secretary said.

Earlier, the countries also agreed on extending the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) with the provision of automatic renewal. The current deal expired on March 31, which was extended until June 30.

This is in line with the proposed amendment to the Bangladesh-India trade agreement, the secretary added.

The original PIWTT agreement was signed in 1972, and has since been renewed many times.

However, this will be the first time that signing a new agreement will allow Bangladesh the use of channels for trade with other countries.

Until now, Bangladeshi cargo vessels have been travelling to and from India using the sea route via Colombo and Singapore ports, the minister said.

“The trade route between the countries is around 3,000 nautical miles now. But when the PIWTT agreement comes into effect, the direct route will be around 620 nautical miles, which will cut the trade cost by nearly 50%,” he said.

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