India wants to use Bangladesh territory to transport fuel oil and gas from Meghalaya to Tripura as adverse weather conditions have disrupted vehicular movement in north-eastern India.
The Indian High Commission sought the transit movement facility in a note verbale to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 19 May.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges has agreed to provide the facility at a fee of Tk1.85 per tonne of goods per kilometre. India was given the opportunity to transport fuel oil and LPG to Tripura using Bangladesh's roads at the same rate in 2016.
The Indian High Commission in Dhaka sought permission to send goods to Tripura through the Guwahati-Jowai-Dawki / Tamabil-Chatlapur / Kailashahar route pointing out that transportation has been disrupted due to extreme weather conditions this year.
Under the circumstances, India has sought the round trip transit movement of petroleum and LPG vehicles using the roads of Bangladesh and necessary clearances including visa, immigration, customs and route permit facilities.
In 2016, due to adverse weather conditions, India used the transit movement facility to transport emergency goods through Bangladesh. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Oil Corporation of India and the Roads and Highways Department of Bangladesh at the time, paving the way for transporting fuel oil and LPG through Bangladesh.
With the latest request for a transit movement facility, India has also sent a draft of a new memorandum of understanding for the transportation of the said goods.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2015 that allowed the movement of goods to and from India using Chattogram and Mongla ports.
At a meeting of the joint working group of customs last March, India requested Bangladesh to allow the transhipment of Indian goods with regular port use keeping these fees and charges unchanged. Raising the fees could not be a precondition for the implementation of the agreement, they argued, adding the issue of raising fees can be discussed later in the appropriate forum.
The Bangladesh side, however, told the meeting, "The experience of the first trial run and the inputs from the internal consultation demonstrate that the issue of comprehensive customs procedure, detailing of fees and charges, appointment of transit operator, infrastructure, and technical readiness of land customs stations at both sides are essential for the notification of a regular Standing Order."
Despite having provisions of monetary guarantee in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), Bangladesh has facilitated the Agreement on the Use of Chattogram and Mongla Port against the undertaking.
"However, the escort charge mentioned in the temporary standing order is much lower than the charge that is applicable for a domestic escort charge and is much more favourable than national treatment, which needs to be aligned with Article V(3) of GATT and Article 11(2) of TFA," the Bangladesh side added.
The number of days required, the halt time, the required customs procedures, and other important aspects of transit through the agreed routes are not known as there were no train services in operation on those routes, pointed out the Bangladeshi delegation.
"Therefore, at least one trial run to and from India is required for each of the approved routes and the findings of those trial runs will be accommodated in the permanent standing order. The information will also be helpful for the ASYCUDA-based transit module in the future," added the Bangladesh delegation.