The proposal which has come up during the bilateral talks is expected to contribute to regional initiatives to step up trade
DHAKA: Bangladesh has sought access to the Kolkata Port to carry out export-import activities and a formal request in this regard was made during official level talks held with that Country in Dhaka during the first week of this month. The proposal which has come up during the bilateral talks is expected to contribute to regional initiatives to step up trade.
The access may help Bangladesh attract Indian investments in designated Special Economic Zones on the West Bengal border.
Nepal and Bhutan have access to Indian Ports through the bilateral framework. Both the Himalayan countries also access Bangladesh through Indian territories. While Nepal accesses Bangladesh by road, Bhutan uses both road and inland waterways.
Under the Regional initiatives, India has wider logistics infrastructure to help both Nepal and Bhutan access the Chittagong and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh through India.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, has granted India’s North-Eastern States access to Chittagong Port through Tripura.
The bilateral inland water transport treaty has been expanded to help Tripura access the Ashugunj river port in Bangladesh. This will help Tripura to access Kolkata Port through Bangladesh. This, coupled with road transit and the upcoming rail transit through Bangladesh, will reduce the distance between India’s North-East and Kolkata significantly.
Dhaka has however not pressed for Indian infrastructure to expand their low-draft seaport at Chittagong. Bangladesh is planning to set up deep draft port(s) in near future.
Bangladesh’s only Major Port at Chittagong is suffering from capacity constraints. The port has poor rail connectivity and this has led to over-dependence on road movement. The overall logistics cost is therefore very high in Bangladesh. As a net result, industrial and commercial activities are mostly centered around Chittagong and Dhaka — in the Eastern parts of the Country.
By claiming access rights to Kolkata Port, Bangladesh is trying to correct this regional imbalance. As rail connections and inland water connectivity between the two neighbours widen, access to Kolkata Port can add to the potential of attracting Indian investments in Western Bangladesh.