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‘India has offered Bangladesh use of inland waterways up to Varanasi’

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DHAKA: The High Commissioner of India in Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami has said that India has offered the use of its inland waterways system up to Varanasi, which can help in trade using the India-Nepal connectivity. India is already providing Bangladesh transit access by rail for its trade with Nepal at zero extra cost and facilitation for goods trade between Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

“We are still awaiting entry into force of the agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports, for which the Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) were finalised over two years ago,” he said, adding that a trial run was also conducted 18 months ago during Covid and yet there has been no progress. Highlighting the importance of rail connectivity, Doraiswami said that it will be a gamechanger for Bangladesh just as it is for the entire region.

Using Bangladesh’s extensive river network, India could also ship goods to Tripura and further afield from there. He mentioned that sub-region connectivity is in the interests of all countries in the sub-region.

Speaking to a prominent local daily of Bangladesh, the High Commissioner cited the World Bank study which projects that seamless connectivity between India and Bangladesh could boost its national income by 17 per cent, while India’s national income would also rise by 8 per cent and boost its exports almost three times.

Calling for opening up more land ports for unrestricted trade, the High Commissioner said that the monopoly of one border crossing for trade works as the biggest non-tariff barrier to trade on both sides.

Without opening more land ports to unrestricted trade, improving multi-modal connectivity using the road, rail, and waterways, new customs facilities, warehouses, and ICD, the two-way trade and investment will be limited, he stated. (IANS)

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