Bangladesh fast-tracks seven land ports along border with India’s northeast to boost bilateral trade
Bangladesh has expedited construction work on seven land ports--in addition to the existing five land ports already in operation-- along its borders with India’s northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Assam
Bangladesh has expedited construction work on seven land ports--in addition to the existing five land ports already in operation-- along its borders with India’s northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Assam. The ports, once completed, will not only boost bilateral trade between the two countries but also play a vital role in the economic development of India’s northeastern region.
Among the seven ports, three each have been along the borders with Tripura and Meghalaya and the rest one is along the border with Assam. The work on another two land ports, connecting to India’s Mizoram, has been halted due to recent political instability in the state, according to a report in The Dhaka Tribune newspaper.
“These land ports will boost our regional connectivity, trade, and commerce,” Khalid Mahmood Chaudhary, Bangladesh’s state minister for shipping, was quoted as saying by the paper. The aim, he added, is to develop “secure” and “disciplined” trade with all neighboring countries.
Once completed, these ports will also develop the country’s national economy, he said.
Northeastern states are connected with India’s mainland by a narrow strip of Siliguri corridor, also known as the chicken- neck corridor. Connectivity challenge has always deterred the economic development and integration of these states.
Even though the Siliguri corridor, trucks carrying goods take as much as 48 hours to reach some places in the area. Naturally, Bangladesh, due to its unique positioning, offers a solution to many of these difficulties.
Chaudhary said if India gets transshipment rights in the future for these ports, it would boost the region’s economy. “India will also benefit from these land ports. Also, these land ports will strengthen our friendship with the neighboring country,” he said. Furthermore, Bangladesh, too, will be benefited by exporting daily necessities and goods.
The proposed land ports--Belonia, Bala, and Ramgarh-- will connect Bangladesh’s Feni, Chunarughat, and Khagrachari districts with Tripura’s Belonia, Khowai, and Sabram districts respectively.
The Sheola port will connect Bangladesh’s Sylhet district to Assam’s Karimganj. And, the three other ports -- Bholaganj, Gobrakura-Koroitoli, and Dhanua-Kamalpur -- will connect Meghalaya’s Cherapunji, Gasuapara, and Ampati districts.
Significantly, Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia, with the trade volume crossing $10 billion in 2018-19. However, due to the Covid-19 disruption, bilateral trade came down to $9.5 billion in the following year. Over the years, bilateral ties enhanced in terms of trade, connectivity, and infrastructure development. Exports from India to Bangladesh account for almost 85 percent of the total bilateral trade.