Bangladesh and India have agreed on the need to extend validity of the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade to link it with trade agreement between the two countries.
In a joint statement issued yesterday, Indian and Bangladeshi foreign ministers expressed hopes that the shipping secretary level talks scheduled for February 27 would identify ways to increase cooperation under this transit protocol.
The statement was issued following the second meeting of the Bangladesh-India Joint Consultative Commission which concluded on Saturday. Foreign Minister Dipu Moni led the Bangladesh delegation while External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid led the Indian team.
At the meeting the two countries inked three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) -- formation of a joint foundation, setting up rail link between Akhaura and Agartala, and bringing changes to avoid double taxation -- to enhance bilateral cooperation.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said Bangladesh has formed an active group to develop a system which will facilitate movement of goods between the two countries, according to the statement issued yesterday.
It said both sides agreed to enhance telecommunication between the two countries.
Reiterating their commitment for early finalisation of the interim agreement to share waters of Teesta and Feni rivers, the two ministers agreed on the need to move forward on the decision to explore possibilities of cooperation in power, water, connectivity and transit in the sub-regional context.
The two ministers stressed on effective implementation of the coordinated border management plan to prevent cross border criminal activities, illegal movement, incidents of violence and loss of lives among other things.
They said the signing of the land boundary agreement has paved the way for settlement of all remaining land boundary issues.
The two ministers stressed the urgent need for upgradation of infrastructure of the land customs stations, land ports and integrated check posts.
They also underscored the need for removal of non-tariff barriers on both the sides, the joint statement said, adding that the ministers hoped an agreement between the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute would be signed at the earliest.
Reviewing status of project implementation under the US$80 crore Indian Line of Credit (LoC), the foreign ministers noted that projects amounting to $78.54 crore were being processed and were at various stages of implementation.
They also stressed the need to expedite early completion of all formalities of the new projects so that the benefits could reach the people.
Responding to Dipu Moni's emphasis on Bangladeshi government's appreciation regarding conversion of US$20 crore of the LoC into grant, the external affairs minister of India said the first tranche of the grant would be released to Bangladesh shortly for utilisation of projects that were of priority to Dhaka.
The next meeting of JCC would be held in New Delhi.