Right, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury formally opens trade with India through Banglabandha land port in Tentulia upazila, Panchagarh, yesterday. A decorated Indian truck arrives on the border, carrying rocks.Photo: STAR
Bangladesh and India yesterday started their long-awaited trade through Banglabandha port in a major bilateral decision. From now, goods from both countries can pass through the land port.
Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury formally opened trade through the land port in Tentulia upazila in the northernmost district of Panchagarh, while Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee launched trade through Phulbari in Jalpaiguri. Earlier, an inaugural meeting was held at Phulbari port.
Trade between Nepal and Bangladesh through Banglabandha has been continuing on a limited scale since its introduction in September 1997.
Banglabandha will be an important land port thanks to broader trade with India, analysts said.
Matia Chowdhury said importers and exporters have long been demanding opening of the port for goods transportation in and out of India. "Today their demand is fulfilled."
Mukherjee said: "We will take steps to shorten the trade gap between Bangladesh and India.”
Banglabandha will shape up into a more important port than other land ports thanks to its geographical importance to both countries, he said.
Immigration to India and Bangladesh through Banglabandha will start after immigration checkpoints are set up, said Matia Chowdhury.
“We want to develop the region economically by maintaining a friendly relationship between two countries,” she added. She urged India to take steps to reduce the trade gap.
Contacted, President of Panchagarh Chamber and Commerce and Industry Iqbal Kaiser said Banglabandha point is important to develop regional trade, as Siliguri is only five kilometres from the port while it is 10 kilometres for Jalpaiguri and 58 for Darjiling.
The Indian minister along with a 13-member delegation, including Urban and Municipality Development Minister of West Bengal Ashok Battacharia, joined the inauguration.
Matia Chowdhury led an 11-member delegation, including lawmakers Mozharul Hoque Pradhan and Farida Akter and Deputy Commissioner of Panchagarh Banamali Bhowmik.
A warehouse, a truck parking yard, a police barrack, a Sonali Bank branch and a telephone exchange office have been set up at Banglabandha port at a cost of Tk 2 crore recently.