FT Online

Published:
2019-04-03 10:13:07 BdST

BD may allow Bhutan to use Ctg and Mongla ports


Bangladesh is likely to provide transshipment facility to Bhutan under which the land-locked country will be able to use Chittagong and Mongla ports for its international trade, officials said.

A deal in this regard is likely to be signed during the visit of the Bhutanese Prime Minister to Dhaka on April 12, according to officials of the foreign and shipping ministries.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering will visit Dhaka at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.

"We are in negotiation with Bhutan. We have agreed to start the process and working on the Standards Operating Procedure (SOP) of the transshipment. Hopefully a deal will be signed during the Bhutanese PM's visit," Shipping Secretary Abdus Samad told the FE on Monday.

A memorandum of understanding on inland waterways was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Bhutan in 2017.

As per the SOP, Bhutan can use Chittagong and Mongla ports and Bangladesh's river routes to ferry its exportable and imported goods. Cargoes will run through Brahmaputra and enter India at Doi Khawa point, and from there it will reach Galupu point near India-Bhutan border.

Preliminarily, Bhutan will have to use Indian land ports. They have river connectivity with India but that is yet to be made suitable for navigation, said an official of the shipping ministry.

The tariff and other modalities will be the same as that of the transshipment agreement between Bangladesh and India.

According to sources, Bangladesh has sent a draft of the MoU to Bhutan. "If they agree to it, the MoU will be signed during the Bhutanese PM's visit in mid-April," an official of the foreign ministry told the FE.

Also, a preferential trade agreement (PTA) has been proposed under which 16 products will get preferential treatment, officials said.

Bhutan is yet to agree to the PTA draft, sources said.

Deals regarding exchange of physicians under which Bangladeshi doctors can visit patients in Bhutan may also be signed, they said.

Other instruments related to hydroelectricity trade and tourism promotion are also under negotiation, they added.

An agreement on cooperation between the public administration training centres of the two countries for exchange of faculty members as well as training and capacity building is also expected to be signed during the visit of the Bhutanese prime minister, the sources said.

Bhutan has showed keen interest to recruit Bangladeshi doctors to work in Bhutan, they added.

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