Coastal Shipping First for India and Bangladesh
India and Bangladesh have reached a coastal shipping agreement aimed at developing trade between the two nations.
As a result, the Indian container vessel MV Harbour-1, owned by Neepa Paribahan and carrying a cargo of cotton, left Krishnapatnam port on a direct route for Bangladesh for the first time on Monday. Previously, such shipments were routed via Colombo, Sri Lanka, or Singapore.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi revived trade agreements signed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974, and late last year the two countries signed a standard operating procedure for bilateral trade. Various provisions were added including that the vessels from both the countries will be treated as domestic vessels upon entry. Vessel crews will also be exempt from international certification.
“Besides an improved connectivity the service will play a vital role in decongesting the border points and bringing down the cost and transit time involved, thereby providing the best competitive freight rates to the advantage of the industry,” said Chinta Sasidhar, Managing Director of Krishnapatnam Port Company.
The change is anticipated to reduce road traffic congestion currently experienced by the cotton industry at the border points of Petrapole in India and Benapole in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh imports huge quantities of cotton from India. Currently it takes around 20 days for a shipment by land, but using Krishnapatnam Port is expected to reduce the time to around seven days, as there is no longer a need for transhipment at Colombo.
Bangladesh mainly imports cotton, steel, tyres and minerals valued at $6 billion per annum. It exports goods worth half a billion U.S. dollars including textile yarn, fish, mineral fuels, cement, bran and husk.
The new shipping arrangement could also see coastal shipping replacing road transport within India, as goods destined for India’s north-eastern states could be shipped to Bangladesh first.