Bangladesh-India shipping secretary-level meeting starts

Matarbari and Dhamra ports to be declared as port of call

Secretary-level meetings between the Shipping Ministries of Bangladesh and India begins on Wednesday at the Inter Continental Dhaka.

The meeting will be a historic one as the under-construction Matarbari deep-sea port, Bangladesh, and Dhamra port on the shore of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Odisha will be declared as “Port of call,” – an intermediate stop for a ship on a scheduled journey for cargo transportation or taking on supplies or fuel.

So far, there are 12 ports of call between these two countries; including Bangladesh’s Mongla port and India’s Karimganj seaport.

Besides, Indian authorities are expected to negotiate terms for the country’s vessels to use Bangladeshi river routes and ply to a third country.

According to a press release from the Bangladesh Ministry of Shipping, Secretary Abdus Samad and his Indian counterpart Gopal Krishna will lead their respective parties, in the all-important two-day meeting.

The meeting of the standing committee on “Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade” (PIWTT) affairs will be held on Wednesday, while the secretary level and inter-governmental committee meeting will take place the next day.

Secretary Abdus Samad said: “More than 12 points will be raised from the Bangladeshi side in a bid to highlight our interest.”

In reply to a query, he said: “We will also try to determine the tariff, duty, and fees for using the ports.

The Bangladesh side intends to reiterate that India may share the maximum cost incurred for river route dredging.  This will allow Bangladeshi captains and crew to use the Indian ports for 72 hours, according to officials of the Ministry of Shipping.

The last secretary-level meeting between the two countries was held in 2018 in New Delhi, which decided that the North-Eastern states of India were permitted to use Bangladeshi ports – paving the way for cargo vessel movement between Kolkata and Dhaka and open multi-modal trade opportunities between the neighbors.

The secretaries will also discuss the identified problems regarding the movement of ships and cruises between the two neighboring nations.