STAFF REPORTER | Thimphu
The Department of Trade under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Ministry of Commerce, Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh convened the 3rd Joint Working Group (JWG) Meeting on the Agreement on the Movement of Traffic (Goods) in Transit on 1 June in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Bhutanese delegation was led by Sonam Tenzin, Director General, Department of Trade, and the Bangladesh delegation was led by Md. Abdus Samad Al Azad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce.
According to the department, the meeting finalized the text of the agreement and its protocol and exchanged the signed minutes of the meeting and the finalized agreement and protocol. The agreement and protocol will be tabled at the Commerce Secretary Level Meeting of the two Governments for endorsement and subsequently to the Parliament for ratification. Once ratified by the two respective countries, movement of goods in transit (both imports and exports) through Bangladesh will be allowed for Bhutan, including the exit through the seaports of Mongla, Payra, and Chattogram.
Following the day, on 2 June, the Bhutanese delegation also met with the Ministry of Shipping and related stakeholders in continuation to the 2nd Joint Technical Committee (JTC) meeting towards the amendment of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the MoU on the Use of Inland Waterways between Bangladesh and Bhutan.
The Bangladesh delegation was led by A.T.M Monemul Haque, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Shipping. The meeting finalized and exchanged the signed minutes of the 2nd JTC meeting. The Bangladesh side agreed to designate Aricha, Chilmari, Sirajganj, Mongla, Chattogram, and Payra Port as the new ports of call for use by Bhutan.
Bahadurabad was also agreed upon as an extended port of call for Chilmari. These ports of call will be formalized upon the signing of the revised standard operating procedure (SOP) between the two countries at a mutually convenient date.
The department said that the agreement and the amendment of the SOP are expected to provide alternative export and import transit routes and modes of transportation with increased ports of call for the private sector. It will also help to promote, facilitate, expand and deepen trade relations between Bhutan and Bangladesh and be complementary to the Preferential Trade Agreement that will come into effect from 1 July of next month.
Meanwhile, the Bhutanese delegation comprised representatives from the Ministry of Economic Affairs; Road Safety and Transport Authority, Ministry of Information and Communication; Department of Revenue and Customs, Ministry of Finance and the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Dhaka.