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Wednesday, 19 May 2021 02:48 GMT

India- Private sector must take lead in Indo-Bhutan-Bangladesh trade through inland waterways in Brahmaputra basin: CUTS International


(MENAFN - KNN India) Private sector must take lead in Indo-Bhutan-Bangladesh trade through inland waterways in Brahmaputra basin: CUTS International

New Delhi, Apr 14 (KNN) The private sector must take the lead in Indo-Bhutan-Bangladesh trade through inland waterways in the Brahmaputra basin, said research firm CUTS International.

On Tuesday, a webinar was organised on - 'Indo-Bhutan-Bangladesh Consultation on Trade and Inland Waterways Navigation in the Brahmaputra Basin' by Oxfam India (OIN) in collaboration with Oxfam Bangladesh and CUTS International.

The webinar was moderated by Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International and he said that it was aimed to capture the issues of traders, understand the implications of COVID-19 on trade and inland navigation, connect the traders and the government officials and explore the spaces for women in transboundary trade through rivers.

Speaking on the occasion, Pankaj Anand, Director (Programme & Advocacy) and Oxfam too said that there are immense possibilities of trade among Bangladesh, Bhutan and India.

'The fruits of growing trade must be reaped by the most marginalized people on both sides of the border", he said during the webinar which was attended by more than 60 participants from Bangladesh, India and Bhutan.

The organisations are working together towards income augmentation of riparian communities by promoting trade through inland waterways under the regional programme Transboundary Rivers of South Asia supported by the Swedish government.

Dr Shah Mohammad Tanvir Monsur, Bangladesh Assistant High Commissioner, Guwahati, Assam stressed that the trade basket should be enhanced and extended.

'Making trade possible and making trade happen are two different things. We need to develop the supply chain further by analysing the complementarity of the markets, he added.

Dorji Norbu, Tashi Wangmo Consultancy from Gelephu, Bhutan pointed out the need for infrastructure development at Jogighopa and Dhubri river ports in terms of dredging, clamshell cranes, steel jetty and full-fledged customs and terminal facilities. He argued for extending ports-of-calls status to Chittagong, Pyra and Mongla ports and also shared that with the development of waterways other commodities like fruits and vegetables can also be traded with Bangladesh.

Highlighting the developmental interventions of Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), A K Bansal, Director (Logistics & Traffic) explained the Standard Operating Procedures and protocols that IWAI was developing with their counterparts across the border to make inland waterways easier to navigate and trade upon.

'Industry should take advantage of waterways and shift a share of the cargo to inland waterways,' he added.

Inland waterways have provided a safe means of transport during COVID-19 even other modes of transport could not be used due to border closure.

Sharmila Khanam, Deputy Director, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority explained the initiations and plans of the authority and how trade via waterways sustained even during COVID.

While responding to the remarks of Bansal and Sharmila, Bipul opined that traders should be made aware of the existing infrastructure and regulations so that they can make use of these facilities.

Chan Mia, Member of Export & Import Business Association, Rowmari, Bangladesh and Ashraf Ali, Import & Export Association Member, South Salmara-Mankachar, India provided traders' perspective from India and Bangladesh. The two border-based traders opined that the inclusion of agricultural products and handicrafts manufactured by local artisans, especially women, in the existing trade framework for export will augment the livelihood of local riparian communities. They also requested the government officials to improve the current infrastructure to support the expansion of trade through inland navigation.

In her concluding remarks Vinuthna Patibandla, Programme Officer, Oxfam said that Oxfam and CUTS will take forward the concerns expressed by the traders to the competent authorities in Bangladesh, Bhutan and India.

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