Bangladesh may offer Chittagong port facility to India

Bangladesh may offer the use of its strategic Chittagong port to India for using the facility to transport goods from the landlocked northeast.

Dhaka: Bangladesh may offer the use of its strategic Chittagong port to India for using the facility to transport goods from the landlocked northeast.
Bangladesh could offer India the facility to use its southeastern Chittagong Port after upgrading its capacity to take the extra load, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan said.

"There is no concept such as `my port or your port` in this free world . . . The day is not far off when you (India) will be able to use Chittagong port as `your port`," he told an Indian journalist from Tripura at eastern frontier town of Akhaura late yesterday.

Talking to the newsmen after joining a function to mark the launch of Bangladesh`s brick export to Tripura at Akhaura border check-post complex, Khan said if Chittagong seaport had the capacity to take the load, there should not be any problem for India to use it for trade transaction.

"If we have to stay together we have to help each other," the minister said.

Khan earlier said the southeastern Chittagong and southwestern Mongla seaports could be offered for use by the neighbouring countries to help boost regional trade in line with ruling Awami League`s election manifesto.

"The issue of transit to India could be solved through bilateral discussion," Khan said, after sending off the first consignment of 400 million bricks to Tripura. New Delhi has a long pending proposal seeking to use the Bangladesh`s port facilities alongside the road transit but no major headway in this regard was witnessed in the past years in view of what analysts said "sensitivity" in bilateral relations.

"We said in the manifesto that if elected, we would give a boost to regional trade by building Chittagong and Mongla ports as regional gateways... We have mandate of the people for going ahead for regional integration," he told business conference last month.

Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty earlier this year said Bangladesh could earn revenue between USD 1.5 billion and USD 2 billion for providing northeastern Chittagong Port for regional use.

Chakravarty today welcomed the minister`s comment saying, "Let us see how best we can reach agreements on these issues" as he emphasised the importance of "political will" in making the longstanding proposal.

"All these issues are under discussion and we are expecting them to take a shape as (Bangladesh`s) Foreign Minister Dipu Moni is visiting New Delhi next month," the envoy said.

He said New Delhi would look to see the upgrading of the Chittagong Port as well as southwestern Mongla Port so India could use these seaports to transport its goods to seven northeastern states.

"There are many institutions to provide funding for upgrading the ports," Chakravarty said at that time renewing the proposals. Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman last month asked policymakers to consider transit or transshipment issues from the commercial point of view saying Bangladesh should make available the facilities to neighbours to boost its economy.

He also suggested that landlocked Nepal should be offered the scope to use Bangladesh`s southwestern Mongla Port "if Bangladesh, India and Nepal could make a mutual
understanding among them."

Bureau Report