Bangladesh, India to renew river transit protocol

March 23rd, 2009 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, March 23 (IANS) Bangladesh and India began talks here Monday to renew the inland water transit and trade protocol that is aimed at boosting river-borne trade between the two countries.
Foreign and shipping ministry officials said they hoped to renew the deal, scheduled to expire March 31, when talks end Tuesday.

Bangladesh shipping secretary Masud Elahi and additional secretary of India’s road, transport and highways ministry Vijay Chhibber carried out the negotiations.

Officials in Dhaka, however, hinted that the inclusion of Ashuganj as a new port of call to facilitate easy transport of Indian goods from Kolkata to Agartala through Bangladesh, would not be incorporated in the renewed deal.

Dhaka had agreed to it during the brief visit here by India’s Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee Feb 9. But officials say there has been “little progress” since then.

“Other than high level political decision, there is no scope for any significant change in this sort of deal,” an unnamed official told New Age newspaper.

Dhaka wants more money as levy than the Taka 20 million ($290,000) it gets annually.

It was agreed at the last meeting in New Delhi that an upward revision of the rate would be considered by the two governments, the newspaper said.

The inland water transit protocol was first signed in 1980 under a bilateral trade agreement which facilitated mutually beneficial arrangements for the use of the waterways for commerce, keeping the river routes navigable within each territories.

The protocol was first renewed in 1999, then in 2001 and last in 2007.

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