Dhaka and New Delhi are going to sign an agreement this month allowing India to use the Chittagong and Mongla ports to transport cargoes to its north-eastern states.
Replying to journalists' queries at a press conference in the shipping ministry yesterday, Secretary Md Abdus Samad said a Standard Operational Procedure (SOP) would be prepared after the signing and India could then use the ports.
The press meet was organised marking a two-day international conference beginning in Dhaka tomorrow. Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan was present.
Samad said India would not pay customs duties as per the principles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
However, other fees and charges will be applicable on Indian goods to be transported through the ports to the north-eastern states, he said.
He said the amount of fees and other charges would be mentioned in the SOP.
In transporting goods through Bangladeshi territory India will have to use local transports.
The shipping secretary said there would be no problem in the Chittagong and Mongla ports in handling Indian goods.
He said the capacities of the ports have been increased greatly.
The Chittagong Port earlier had four gantry cranes. The government has already approved the purchase of 10 gantry cranes, three of which have already been set up. Three more are in the process of being installed.
Besides, a bay terminal is being set up in Chittagong. On the other hand, the Mongla port has been modernised.
The cabinet on September 17 approved a draft agreement on the use of the two ports.
After the cabinet meeting at the secretariat, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said Nepal and Bhutan could be included if they wish to use the two ports.
Bangladesh and India signed a memorandum of understanding on the use of the two ports during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dhaka in June 2015.
The deal will have the duration of five years but it could be extended automatically for another five years. Any side can cancel the agreement on six months' notice alongside suspending it if the necessity arises.
Should a problem arise in implementing the agreement, several committees of both countries would resolve it.
As per the deal, Indian goods can be transported through four entry points: Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala in India; Tamabil in Sylhet and Dauki in Meghalaya; Sheola in Sylhet and Sutarkandi in Assam; and Bibirbazar in Cumilla and Srimantapur in Tripura.