Private warehouse at Benapole port will boost Indo-Bangla trade

- A Monitor Report 30 Apr, 2018 | 984 Views | - +
Dhaka:

Trade bodies and businesspersons demanded warehouses at the Benapole Land Port by private investors for adequate storage of imported and export goods.

Businesses recommended that the Bangladesh government should facilitate setting up private sector warehouses at Benapole Land Port, at the fringe of Bangladesh-India international border to increase storage capacity at the port for boosting trade with India.

Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan was the chief guest at a seminar on ‘Addressing Land Port Issues for Better Indo-Bangla Trade’ jointly organised by India Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) and the High Commission of India in Bangladesh at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on April 29.

IBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmad, IBCCI export-import sub-committee chairman Motiar Rahman, former Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tariq Karim, Deputy High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Adarsh Swaika and India-based CUTS International executive director Bipul Chatterjee spoke at the inaugural ceremony.

Bangladesh Land Port Authority chairman Tapan Kumar Chakravorty, IBCCI vice-president Shoeb Chowdhury, Institute for Policy Advocacy and Governance senior research associate Avia Nahreen, also spoke at the seminar.

IBCCI president said that the warehouse capacity of Benapole was as low as 40,000 tonnes against the requirement of at least one lakh tonnes.

Ahmad, who is also the immediate past president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), recommended making all 22 land ports along the India-Bangladesh border fully operational to augment bilateral trade.

“Unless we have enough warehouses, we cannot do business. The private sector is ready to help to build the warehouses at the port and we are ready to help the government,” he remarked.

Last fiscal year, goods worth $650 million were shipped to India, 90 per cent of which were brought in through the land ports, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.

If better land port facilities can be created, Bangladesh can easily grab a good portion of the $30 billion Indian apparel market, Ahmad said.

IBCCI export-import sub-committee chairman, also Benapole based clearing and forwarding agent, Motiar Rahman said that it was absolute necessity to introduce private warehouse system at Benapole port, which cannot accommodate huge volume of imports from India.

The existing 60,000 square feet government-owned warehouse is not adequate for the expanded trading relationship between the two neighbouring countries, businesses said at a seminar styled “addressing land port issues for better Indo-Bangla trade”.

Due to congestion on either side of the border, importers and exporters have to wait for as many as 25 days and in that time goods deteriorate in quality or go missing in the absence of adequate storage facilities.

For instance, in the past 15 days, more than 4,000 trucks have been unable to enter Bangladesh from Indian Bangaon-Chakdaha side due to lack of space in Benapole, said Rahman, who is also the chairman of the import-export sub-committee of the IBCCI.

In 2016-17, a total of 155.19 lakh tonnes of goods were imported and exported through the land ports, according to Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan. Bangladesh earned Taka 111.47 crore from the land port last fiscal year in contrast to Taka 26.74 crore in 2008-09.

Shipping Minister said that the government took a coordinated approach to develop the country’s all major land ports, riverine ports and sea ports.

In 2016-17, the Petrapole-Benapole land port alone accounted for 37 per cent of the total trade between the two friendly neighbours, said Adarsh Swaika, deputy high commissioner of India in Bangladesh.

“Twelve more land ports are on way now,” said Tapan Kumar Chakravorty, chairman of the Bangladesh Land Port Authority, which manages six of the land ports.

Currently, Bangladesh has 23 land ports, 22 of which are located along the Indian border, except for Teknaf land port with Myanmar.

Non-tariff, procedural and regulatory barriers are standing in the way of higher bilateral trade between the two countries, said Bipul Chatterjee, executive director of CUTS International, an Indian research body.

“We need to focus on border areas. Border infrastructure is very important for land ports, and so multimodal connectivity has to be increased. In that case, active participation of foreign agencies and coordinating agencies is very essential,” the expert said.

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