Bangladesh gives India Permanent Access to Chattogram, Mongla Ports
STORIES, ANALYSES, EXPERT VIEWS
In a landmark decision, Bangladesh has given India access to Chattogram and Mongla ports for transit and trans-shipment of cargo vessels. The move will significantly cut time and cost needed to transport goods to India’s northeastern states and West Bengal and push regional connectivity in Bay of Bengal.
The decision by the Sheikh Hasina government comes close on the heels of its announcement of an Indo-Pacific policy that will enable wider cooperation between New Delhi and Dhaka.
Cargoes can be transported from Chattogram and Mongla ports to Agartala in Tripura via Akhaura, Dawki in Meghalaya via Tamabil, Sutarkandi in Assam via Sheola and Srimantapur in West Bengal via Bibir Bazar. The same routes can be used to transport commodities from the northeastern states to the two ports.
The access to ports can also strengthen the prospective India-Japan-Bangladesh trilateral in the backdrop of Japan’s role in constructing Matarbari deep seaport. The permanent access is based on a 2018 bilateral pact that was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials from Dhaka said. India and Bangladesh had signed an ‘Agreement on the Use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for Movement of Goods to and from India’ in October 2018 and finalised the standard operating procedures for operationalising the pact a year later.
The two countries tested the use of ports for transshipment of cargoes extensively over the past year after the pandemic had subsided. The first trans-shipment trial took place in July 2020 when a load of iron rods and pulses was transported from Haldia port near Kolkata to Chattogram port in southeast Bangladesh and then shipped across the land to Tripura.
Chattogram is Bangladesh’s main port and handles more than 90% of the country’s foreign trade. Mongla is the country’s second largest seaport on the Bay of Bengal.