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Bangladesh waterways hold huge potential in int’l trade

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 8 September, 2021 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Bangladesh has huge potential in facilitating international trade among BBIN nations utilising its inland water transport (IWT) services, experts told a webinar on Tuesday.

Addressing the webinar, the speakers, however, expressed frustration over the discriminatory resource allocation in IWT services compared to the road transport systems in the country.

Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative is a sub-regional architecture of countries in Eastern South Asia, a sub-region of South Asia.

Marking the silver jubilee of the founding anniversary of BBIN, development agency Unnayan Samunnoy organized the regional dialogue session before launching a whitepaper on the IWT sector.  Policy experts from Bangladesh, India and Bhutan joined the webinar.

Former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Atiur Rahman was the chief guest in the webinar. Unnayan Samunnoy research associate Ayan Soofi presented the whitepaper on the occasion.

Economist Atiur Rahman said the importance of waterways for cross border trading among the South Asian countries has been increased in the post-pandemic era.

“Most the fund for pandemic resilience goes to developed countries while the foreign investment in developing economy declined to 12 percent.  In this situation, there is no way without leveraging the inland water transport for freight forwarding among the economies in lower budget, “ Dr Atiur said, calling for more investment in IWT services.

Bangladesh Cargo Vessel Owners Association executive member Mahbub Uddin Ahmed said waterway transportation of goods is comparatively less popular than the other modes of transport.

Kolkata-based Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industries director Soma Mitra said the use of waterways of the North-Eastern region of West Bengal can reduce the pressure on Benapole land port.

Former director of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Syed Moonwar Hossain urged for updating the hydrographic survey of the country’s riverine areas for maximum utilization of the IWT resources.

Indian Cuts International policy analyst Arnab Ganguly suggested businesses for conducting more voyages on a pilot basis to identify the challenges in the navigation.

Commerce Ministry’s former additional secretary Manoj Kumar Roy, international business expert Prithwiraj Nath, India-based customs house agent Debojyoti Bose, Riverinn Shipping and Logistic proprietor Nitya Kumar Saha , Gulf Orient Seaways managing director Sheikh Mahfuz Hamid also took part in the discussion.