Issue #2, April-June, 2020
ADB to provide $42 mn to Bangladesh for improving multi-modal transport
Given the impact of COVID-19, improving transport connectivity is critical for ensuring a robust local and global supply chain.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide Bangladesh $42 million in concessional loans to prepare road and railway sector projects promoting multimodal transport and connectivity in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, India add 5 more ports of call
Bangladesh and India have added five more ports of call that would augment the trade and provide stimulus to economic development of the new locations and their hinterland.
The five new ports of call in Bangladesh side are Rajshahi, Sultanganj, Chilmari, Daudkandi and Bahadurabad, while in Indian side are Dhulian, Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura and Jogigopha. Bangladesh's Shipping Secretary Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das signed the Second Addendum to the Protocol on Transit and Trade.
Bangladesh-India trans-shipment trial run likely very soon
Both countries have agreed on tariff and charges for Indian cargo to move through Bangladesh.
The first trial run of the trans-shipment of Indian goods through Bangladesh will take place soon amid the COVID-19, according to sources. After the trial, and based on its outcome, a full phased trans-shipment movement of Indian vehicles through Bangladesh’s roads will get underway soon.

Logistics industry rattled
The logistics and freight forwarding business in Bangladesh has been devastated by the global corona virus pandemic, which has led to a nosedive in transportation of goods by land, air and sea.
The container shipping industry that was first dealt a blow in January by an import crunch amid the coronavirus outbreak in China is facing new shocks now. Though import volume slightly increased since February with Chinese factories gradually resuming production, the sector is bogged down by a dearth of export consignments and container congestion at Chattogram port.
Nu 1.7 bn from India’s trade support facility earmarked for dry port at Pasakha
Of the total Nu 4 billion Trade Support Facility (TSF) the Government of India is providing in the 12th Plan, Nu 1.7B has been earmarked for a dry port at Pasakha.
India committed the TSF to strengthen bilateral trade and economic linkages between the two countries during Lyonchhen’s state visit to India in December 2018.
Bangladesh, Bhutan to sign preferential trade deal
Bangladesh and Bhutan finalised the terms and conditions for signing a preferential trade agreement (PTA) to increase bilateral trade.
"We have reached a consensus to sign a PTA, not the free trade agreement (FTA)," said Sharifa Khan, additional commerce secretary. The documents were supposed to be finalised in March this year, but it was delayed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Under PTAs some select goods enjoy duty benefits from both countries whereas under FTAs almost all do, meaning that, in turn, both countries will also lose import and export revenue.
Agreement for 600 MW Kholongchhu Indo-Bhutan Joint Venture Hydroelectric Project Signed
The Trashiyangtse-based 600MW run-of-the-river project is expected to generate about 2,568.88 million (M) units annually.
Kholongchhu Hydro Energy Limited (KHEL) signed the first joint venture (JV) hydropower project between Bhutan and India. KHEL, which is a joint venture company formed between Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) and India’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL), is expected to complete the project by the second half of 2025.
India-Bhutan rail link soon
A team from Indian Railways will visit Bhutan to hold discussions with the State Mining Corporation of the neighbouring country on finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for export of railway ballast from Bhutan to India.
Indian Railway Board commissioned and carried out a survey to seek the possibilities of establishing Mujnai-Nyoenpaling railway line. Once established, then this will provide a cross-border rail link between India and Bhutan. An Indian Railways team will visit Bhutan and hold discussions with the Bhutan Mining Corporation on finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for export of railway ballast from Bhutan to India.
Tripura readies temporary jetty for Indo-Bangla inland waterways transport route in 3 weeks
The jetty, which would connect Sonamura with Daudkandi of Bangladesh, was recently included in the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes.
Tripura has readied a floating jetty on River Gomati in Sonamura of Sipahijala district, 60 Km from Agartala, as part of the Indo-Bangla international inland waterways connectivity project, in three weeks. The jetty, which would connect Sonamura with Daudkandi of Bangladesh, was recently included in the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes. Small boats and ferries capable of carrying 50 ton goods would start moving through this route to Bangladesh soon and via the neighbouring soul, to rest of India and beyond.
TIR helps open up India-Iran-Afghanistan intermodal trade
The first intermodal transport, using TIR from India via Chabahar port in Iran, was completed last week.
Carrying factory line components, the operation took seven days in total – five by sea and two by road from Chabahar port in Iran to the final destination in Afghanistan. In comparison, the traditional route from Bandar Abbas port in Iran is three to four days longer. This was also the first TIR operation started from India and by an Indian TIR carnet holder.
In a globally competitive eco-system, supply chain management, and the logistics that support it, is one of the key drivers of competitiveness – Pritam Banerjee
Pritam Banerjee, Logistic specialist at Asian Development Bank throw insights on logistics sector, Global supply chain, trade and public policies, and tariff wars.

India- Bangladesh expanded river trade opens up opportunities for locals
An addendum to an existing agreement could open up valuable trade routes for small producers and marginalised communities along shared rivers.
India and Bangladesh recently signed the second addendum to the Protocol of Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) at the end of May, a step welcomed by traders in both countries. The agreement adds an additional route between Sonamura, in India’s Tripura state, and Daudkandi in Bangladesh to the existing eight protocol routes – along which vessels can travel across international borders. It also declares Jogigopha in India’s Assam state and Bahadurabad, Bangladesh, as new ports of call along the Kolkata-Silghat and Karimganj-Silghat routes. With 54 shared rivers, India and Bangladesh have significant possibilities to harness the trade and economic benefits of inland waterways. The extension of the routes and new ports should open up the waterways to smaller traders, bringing agricultural goods and other materials between Bangladesh and India’s landlocked northeastern states.
World Bank’s $450 Million Road Support in Nepal to Spur COVID-19 Recovery
The World Bank approved a $450 million project to help Nepal improve its roads and set the course for post-COVID-19 economic recovery through greater cross-border trade, more jobs, especially for women, and better road safety.
The Nepal Strategic Road Connectivity and Trade Improvement Project will enhance regional road connectivity by improving the Nagdhunga-Naubise-Mugling road and upgrading the Kamala-Dhalkebar-Pathlaiya road. Both are crucial to Nepal’s connectivity and trade with India and other countries. The project will also enhance infrastructure, facilities, and sanitation at border crossing points to ease trade constraints and spur agricultural exports. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the project will also support better screening of goods and people at border facilities, and develop guidance for special working arrangements, such as safe distancing and remote working.
Importers leave piles of uncleared cargo at Sirsiya dry port
The dry port is operating at three times its capacity with 4,358 containers sitting in its premises.
The Sirsiya Dry Port in Birgunj is struggling with uncleared cargo as importers are not willing to remove the cargo from the port due to low consumer demand and lack of trucks. The dry port is operating at three times its capacity with 4,358 containers sitting in its premises.
Shipments across the eastern border resume after India lifts restrictions
India allowed Nepali cargo trucks to proceed to the Panitanki border point in West Bengal after being stranded on the bridge over the Mechi River for six days amidst COVID spread fears.
According to the Mechi Customs Office, six trucks carrying tea and four trucks carrying large cardamom crossed the border. The government of the Indian state of West Bengal had prevented the Nepali trucks from crossing the eastern border point of Kakarbhitta into India over coronavirus fears. Trucks carrying goods into Nepal faced no restrictions.
Nepal needs a better strategy
India’s GST helped Nepal to shore up exports, but core competence is a concern.
The year 2019 was extraordinary for India-Nepal trade. First, India connected Nepal by South Asia’s first petroleum product pipeline. Second, Nepali exports to India shot up by 63 percent to a 20-year high of $649 million, ignoring a fall in India’s total imports. An analysis of UN Comtrade database will reveal that India is not only the largest destination (68 percent) for Nepali exports, but it is also the only market that offers Nepal a growth opportunity. In comparison, Nepal’s exports to the United States, China and Germany either declined or remained flat.