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Dhaka, Thimphu likely to finalise transit deal

Dhaka, Thimphu likely to finalise transit deal

Bangladesh and Bhutan are likely to finalise the draft agreement on transit between the two South Asian economies during the two-day secretary-level meeting to be held in Dhaka from Wednesday.

Bangladesh has already finalised the draft of the transit agreement with Bhutan with a provision of providing transit through land, rail, air and waterways and imposing fees and charges for using its infrastructure, officials said.

Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed will lead the home side while the 10-member Bhutanese team to be led by Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Dasho Sonam Tshering.

The delegation will have officials from the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs and Economic Affairs, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Bhutan.

The last Commerce Secretary-level meeting was held in Thimphu on June 14, 2012. The main purpose of the meeting is to discuss issues relating to trade and transit in order to facilitate and promote the smooth trade between the two countries, it said.

Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed could not be reached over phone for comments over the possible deal signing with Bhutan despite repeated attempts.

Meanwhile, a Bhutanese delegation, led by its Commerce Secretary, will meet Commerce Minister GM Quader at the latter’s office on Tuesday morning prior to the secretary-level meeting.

Earlier, Bangladesh had sent the draft recommendations on transit to Bhutan through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) for their approval.

Officials expect the Bhutanese delegation to give its green signal in finalising the transit deal with Bangladesh during the meeting.

Apart from the transit deal, the top officials of the two countries will discuss other issues that will help ensure mutual benefits of both the countries, ministry sources said.

Bangladesh and Bhutan had signed a temporary transit deal in 1980, which expired in 2000. The government of Bhutan has requested its Bangladeshi counterpart to renew the deal.

Bhutan is interested to use seaports and airports in Bangladesh along with five additional land customs (LC) stations under the proposed protocol on transit.

Bhutan and Bangladesh’s export-import currently takes place through two land customs (LC) station Burimari which is approximately 400 kms away from the south-eastern town of Samdrup Jongkhar, and Tamabil, a route which passes through the Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya.

At present, Bhutan enjoys duty-free market access of 18 products to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is an important trading partner for Bhutan. The Bilateral Trade Agreement between Bhutan and Bangladesh was initially signed in 1980.

Since then, trade between the two countries has grown steadily. The volume of trade between Bhutan and Bangladesh during the fiscal year (FY) 2010-2011 was worth US$ 22.12 million.

Bhutan exported goods worth $ 19 million, while Bangladesh exported only $ 3.12 million worth of goods to Bhutan during the year. UNB


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