Bangladesh and India are expected to open shipping routes using non-deep-sea vessels by end of the year, with dry runs beginning as soon as October 14.
The two sides are close to reaching an agreement on standard operating procedures for trans-shipment using the proposed routes, diplomatic sources said.
It would make transport of exports and imports cheaper and promote trade.
India is interested in getting cheaper and quicker transport facilities to and from its eastern and south-eastern Indian states and Bangladesh is banking on getting huge foreign currency and employment opportunities in return.
A high number of Bangladeshi vessels are likely to be used for commercially transporting cargo to and from India through Chittagong and Mongla ports, officials said.
In the absence of direct shipping arrangements, Dhaka and New Delhi are now heavily dependent on costly land routes for the over $6 billion bilateral trade.
According to rough estimates, the coastal shipping routes might reduce the cost of transportation by 20 to 40 percent compared to rail or road transportation.
Shipping ministry officials said 98 percent of vessels engaged in carrying goods under the water protocol of 1972 are Bangladeshi, although it has provision for a 50-50 use of Bangladeshi and Indian vessels.
“An understanding has been reached between the two countries for commencement of coastal shipping between the ports of Bangladesh and the eastern ports of India,” a highly placed source said.
According to officials, Bangladesh first proposed to provide trans-shipment facilities to India through Chittagong and Mongla seaports during the shipping secretary level meeting held in Dhaka on July 2-3, 2012.
They said discussions were held through diplomatic channels to formalise the coastal shipping arrangements over the last two years and the upcoming trial run was the outcome of the talks.
Meanwhile, Indian media reported that the two countries had agreed to conform to Indian standards of river sea vessels (RSV)-4 for the operation of ships.
India had agreed to assist Bangladesh through the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) for classification of Bangladesh vessels, they said.
“Both the countries have also agreed to buy insurance cover for a limit of $10 million from their domestic insurance companies,” India's official news agency PTI said in its recent report.
The Chittagong Port is 150km from Agartala, the capital of Tripura state, and more than 350km away from Kolkata via Bangladesh, while the distance between Tripura and Kolkata is about 1,650km through hilly terrain.