Dhaka may request New Delhi to allow Bangladeshi businesses to use Indian airports particularly the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata of West Bengal for export cargo shipment.
Bangladesh government may raise the issue at the next commerce secretary-level meeting to be held in Dhaka in February 7-8.
Bangladesh may raise, among other issues, anti-dumping duty imposed by India on Bangladeshi goods like jute, recognition of BSTI certificate by India, testing facilities at the land customs stations in India, removal of port restriction and payment of export bills of Bangladeshi exporters by Indian Lilliput Kids Wear Ltd, he said.
The commerce ministry on January 28 at a preparatory meeting discussed the issue of keeping the matter related to the Indian airport use on the agenda for the commerce secretary-level meeting.
The ministry has taken the initiative following a proposal made by MGH Group, a local conglomerate, for allowing transhipment of Bangladeshi cargoes through Benapole-Petrapole land ports to ship those cargoes to European countries or the USA by getting connected from Kolkata and any other airports in India.
The government can avail the benefit under the Bangladesh-India Trade Agreement, which says the two governments can make mutually beneficial arrangements for the use of their waterways, roadways and railways for commerce between the two countries, for passage of goods between two places in one country and to third countries, the business group said in two separate letters to the commerce ministry and the National Board of Revenue.
Officials said that the ministry might also seek opinion from the stakeholders including Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry before finalising the agenda.
They said that the issue of using Indian airport space by Bangladeshi exporters was a new one, which should be raised at the bilateral forum.
A leading exporter, however, said that he thought time was yet to come for using airports of other countries.
Rather, he said, the government should first improve the infrastructure facilities at air and sea ports in the country and increase their efficiency and capacity.
Exporters don’t get sufficient space at airports and exports goods even are kept unattended on the runway, he said, adding ‘export goods go missing and get wet in the rain.’
Exporters mainly send their goods by ships through seaports. But they have to send goods particularly lighter ones and having short lead time by air.
In the letters, MGH Group said that Bangladeshi exports, particularly that of readymade garment items, were acutely affected due to lack of airfreight space and other operational challenges at the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport in Dhaka.
Global retailers are also cancelling export orders due to non-arrival of goods at destination on time.
On the other hand, Indian airports have underutilised cargo capacity.
‘On average, 40 per cent of the cargo space at the Kolkata airport is being used,’ the letter stated.
MGH Group officials said that it (requested facility) would also facilitate exports to the EU and the USA by reducing time and cost.
Currently, Bangladeshi air cargos to EU destinations are to go under security scanning at third countries or at their destinations with additional cost as the EU imposed restriction on air cargos from Bangladesh on security reasons in June last year.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Trade & Commerce