Bangla truck reaches Delhi in big leap for South Asian free trade
In a historic event, the first Bangladeshi vehicle laden with imported consignment rolled into a customs depot in New Delhi as part of an accord that has done away with transshipment of goods from one country’s truck to another at international border, a time consuming and costly process.
Senior customs officials said that this is yet another measure in a series of trade facilitation initiatives taken by the government recently to help businesses cut transaction costs.
“It is a very big day that marks ease of doing business. The entry of Bangladesh’s cargo vehicles to India and ours to their territory will help in saving of days and transaction cost. It will further trade between the two countries,” Chief Commissioner of Customs Vivek Johri said.
Adding further, Johri said, “The compulsion to tranship goods at the borders with neighbouring countries has been a major and “longstanding pain point” hindering free flow of trade.”
It has been made possible under the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement, which was signed in June last year.
The pact allows vehicles to enter each other’s territory and does away with trans shipment of goods from one country’s truck to another at the border.
There was no provision to allow trucks registered in India to enter Bangladesh and vice versa until the accord was signed last year. This led to delay and often also caused damage to the goods. The steps being taken to facilitate seamless movement of cargo vehicles will give a major boost to trade and business in the sub-region.
Johri said that the measure would not only cut cost and time but also allow the BBIN region to fully exploit its potential for integration through trade.
The truck had left Dhaka on August 27 and entered India through Petrapole land border in West Bengal. It reached Inland Container Depot (ICD), Patparganj, on Monday morning.
The vehicle, which was carrying goods for Marks and Spencer’s, London, was fitted with a Global Positioning System (GPS) to help officials track its movement and help them ensure hassle-free entry into the national capital via various states.
“It is a historic event for both the countries,” said Vinayak Azaad, Additional Commissioner of customs. Officials from Bangladesh’s High Commission and Ministries of External Affairs and Road Transport and Highways were present during a function organised at the ICD.
“The event will help in increasing trade between Bangladesh and India. It also shows that trust exists between the two countries,” said Zahid-Ul-Islam, Counsellor, Bangladesh High Commission. Drivers of the truck — Motiur Islam (32) and Md Rasel (28) — were enthusiastic over their first visit to India.
A similar trial run of cargo vehicle from India was conducted in November, 2015 from Kolkata to Agartala via Dhaka, it said.
This trial run was a successful endeavour which established that with such facilitation, the distance of more than 1550 kms from Kolkata to Agartala via India’s Chicken’s Neck will be reduced to 650 kms if truck travels through Bangladesh resulting in reduction in overall transaction costs.