By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, July 7 (IANS) The West Bengal government has allowed goods from Bangladesh through Benapole Land Port in Jashore, three days after Bangladeshi exporters blocked imports.
Export and import activities through Benapole-Petrapole land port resumed on Sunday evening, after a three-day disruption in the wake of a strike enforced by Bangladeshi traders. The local exporters made the retaliatory move after India’s decision to send goods to Bangladesh while halting imports.
The trading organisations at the Benapole land port on July 1 stopped the import of Indian goods protesting against the refusal of entry to Bangladeshi export items on the Indian side.
Later, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Indian High Commission of Dhaka, customs officials of Benapole, Benapole land port authority and trading organisations of both countries came to a reconciliation on Sunday. As a result, five trucks carrying Indian goods entered the country while five Bangladeshi trucks with export items entered India in the evening.
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A.K. Abdul Momen said , after a long conversation with the State Government of West Bengal, Indo-Bangla trade through Benapole-Petrapole land port resumed again.
In a video briefing Bangladesh Foreign Minister said: “We, the governments of India and Bangladesh, decided together that we would continue our trade. But suddenly our trade was stopped due to the ban imposed by the West Bengal government.”
He mentioned, “since last March 23, no truck carrying goods from our country has been allowed to enter through Petrapole-Benapole land port. Whereas the Bangladeshi products are going to Tripura and other places of India as usual”.
“Only the West Bengal government said, due to the lockdown, they will not let any truck go to Bangladesh,” he mentioned.
Momen said, the Mamta Banerjee government had said if any Indian truck entered Bangladesh, the driver would not be allowed only products were allowed. So, the drivers did not come to Bangladesh with the goods.
“Then it was decided that the drivers will not enter Bangladesh, they will just unload their goods which will then be uploaded into Bangladeshi trucks, thus Indian goods will be imported. This system was also followed,” the foreign minister of B’desh said.
But it proved to be “quite expensive”. Secondly, not more than 4/5 trucks can be unloaded in a day. For this reason, this program was dropped, Momen said.
After long discussion, it was decided to take the goods by rail. And goods are coming by rail.
“Meanwhile, Indian goods were coming to the border of Petropole land port, we had no objection. It was continued.
“But the West Bengal government did not let our truck to enter Petrapole land port; due to the lockdown. Exports of Bangladesh were stopped. Which made the C&F Agents upset,” Momen said.
Because, the traders of Bangladesh were losing a lot. So they stopped the import of Indian goods in Bangladesh protesting against the refusal of Bangladeshi export items on the Indian side.
“We had long discussions with the policy makers of West Bengal. Eventually an agreement was reached and now the freight truck movement of the two countries has started in Benapole-Petrapole land port,” Momen said.
“We couldn’t send many goods due to time constraints. Normal trade will resume on Monday,” said the export agency leaders of Bangladesh on Sunday.
Import trade worth BDT 30,000 crore was annually taking place via the land port when the export trade worth only BDT 2,000 crore was taking place, said the importer and exporters of Bangladesh.
At the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in Bangladesh, the authorities completely shut export-import activities at the port in late March as a precaution that lasted for around three months. On June 7, Bangladeshi traders started importing commodities from India but the Indian traders refused exports from the opposite side.