Bangladesh to charge India only transit fee

Bangladesh will charge fees from India instead of duties for transit facilities of goods to its northeastern states through its territory.

Updated: Nov 03, 2010, 15:34 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh will charge fees from India
instead of duties for transit facilities of goods to its
northeastern states through its territory, officials said here
on Wednesday.

"Initiatives are underway to frame new rules to
fix the amount of fees in line with international practices,"
a finance ministry official said.

He added that the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
provisions suggested realisation of fees, "not duties" by a
country which offers the transit facilities to another.

The official`s comments came as Finance Minister
AMA Muhith yesterday said Dhaka would need to charge India
"something" as they would use infrastructures in Bangladesh
for carrying their goods.

"They will use our facilities to transport their
goods. Our infrastructure will be used and that involves
some costs for the government. So we`ll have to take
something; it may be called fee or anything," a newspaper
today quoted him as saying.

Muhith said the existing transit rules of the National
Board of Revenue (NBR) would be amended to offer the facility
and re-fix the amount of fees.

Bangladesh has been offering India a transit facility
since the pre-independence period before 1971 through
waterways and according to officials the country now receives
fees of around Taka 5 crore annually.

But a new set of rules was now required for all
the transit routes as there has been no such facility for road
and rail transport.

The WTO affairs committee chairman of the apex
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries
(FBCCI) chairman Manzur Ahmed said that The European Union
(EU) nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN) countries charged fees in offering the transit
facilities under the WTO provisions.

"Bangladesh should not have any bar in charging
the fees to India in exchange of the facility," Ahmed told the
`Prothom Alo` newspaper.

Dhaka and New Delhi signed a crucial transshipment
agreement in March this year finalising an earlier deal to
allow Indian goods to be shipped to its isolated northeastern
state Tripura through Bangladesh territory. In July Bangladesh also sought the India`s intended modus
operandi for using its northeastern Chittagong and
southwestern Mongla ports under a landmark Dhaka-New Delhi
agreement during Hasina`s New Delhi visit in January this
year.

"When we are thinking about transforming Bangladesh as a
regional hub and when the entire region will be brought under
the connectivity, India will have access to its northeastern
states unfettered movement of people and goods will be
taking place," Foreign Minister Dipu Moni earlier said.

Officials said Dhaka expected the opening of the
proposed transit routes to Nepal and Bhutan through India by
the year end as it allowed access to its northeastern states.

New Delhi agreed to offer the transit facilities during
Hasina`s maiden India tour while Indian Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee during his Dhaka tour said, "we will soon
have in place arrangements to allow trucks from Nepal to enter
the Bangladesh side of the land custom station at
Banglabandha."

India agreed to facilitate transits between Bangladesh
and its two landlocked neighbours, Nepal and Bhutan while
Dhaka also signed a deal on India`s access to the Ashuganj
Port for transport of goods to its northeastern region during
Hasina`s Delhi visit.

PTI