Quarterly Newsletter
Issue #4, October-December, 2020


Connectivity in South Asia: Corridor-led Integration of BBIN Countries Mooted
Some borders have been studied multiple times but substantial challenges are still evident that inhibits this corridor’s logistics quality.

Given new and emerging infrastructure linkages, it is vital to advance, adapt and accelerate the use of big data and analytics to conceptualise corridor assessment and monitoring mechanisms to improve logistics quality for enhancing trade and competitiveness in the BBIN sub-region.
Bangladesh Buries the Sonadia Deep-Sea Port Project
While environmental issues may have been among the factors that Dhaka had to consider, it is more likely that geopolitics sealed the fate of the project.
The Bangladesh government has officially called off the development of a deep-sea port at Sonadia Island off the country’s southeastern coast after repeatedly stating, without any formal action, that the project has been scrapped off.
The deep-sea port that Bangladesh is building now at Matarbari will proceed with Japanese help. Like Sonadia, this is located on the Bay of Bengal and close to India. However, given the strong India-Japan relationship, India is unlikely to raise objections. The work on the port is already in progress.
Bangladesh-Myanmar Land Port on Cards
As part of ensuring the development of the Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT), the government has planned to set up a land port at Ghungdoom of Naikhongchhari in Bandarban on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
Bangladesh will be able to import essential commodities, such as wood, fish, dry fish and betel nut from Myanmar. And Bangladesh can export many Bangladeshi products like medicine through the proposed land port.
Cross-border Connectivity for Bangladesh’s Power Sector: A Business View
With increasing access to electricity, the latent demand for electricity fueled by economic growth creates a proverbial deficit, which will require expanding generating units and associated transmission systems to fulfill the gaps.
Bangladesh can participate either through joint-venture investment on a G-G basis or through public-private partnership (PPP) in setting up the generation and cross-border transmission capacities in India, Nepal and Bangladesh to have stakes in the cross-border power supply.
The creation of such cross-border linkages shall safeguard precious natural resources of landmass and the least environmental impact. Such linkages also allow direct investment and economic returns to Bangladesh.
Modi-Sheikh Hasina Launch 5th Rail Link Connecting India-Bangladesh
The Haldibari-Chilahati rail link opened after a gap of 55 years and is expected to boost people-to-people contact and tourism between both nations.
The 10.5km rail link is expected to enhance rail network access to the main ports, dry ports and land borders to support growth in regional trade and encourage economic and social development of the region.
India-Bhutan to Open New Trade Routes to Enable Sub-regional Cooperation
Nagarkata will now be notified as a ‘permanent’ Land Customs Station without any commodity restrictions, thereby allowing Bhutan to export inter alia boulders and river bed materials to India.
India has agreed to Bhutan’s request to open new trade routes for Bhutan’s bilateral and transit trade with India at Nagarkata, Agartala, Jogighopa, and Pandu, to be operational shortly. This will enable smoother sub-regional cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
Bangladesh-Bhutan Signs Preferential Trade Agreement
The Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Bhutan is the first such bilateral PTA Bangladesh signed with any country since its independence in 1971.
Some 100 Bangladeshi products will get duty-free access to Bhutan. These include baby clothes and clothing accessories, men's trousers and shorts, jackets and blazers, jute and jute goods, leather and leather goods, dry cell battery, fan, watch, potato, condensed milk, cement, toothbrush, plywood, particleboard, mineral and carbonated water, green tea, orange juice, pineapple juice, and guava juice.
Meanwhile, 34 Bhutanese products will get duty-free access to the Bangladeshi market.
Celebrating India-Bhutan ties: Award to Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Power Project
India has so far constructed four Hydroelectric Projects in Bhutan including the 60 MW Kurichhu HEP; 1020 MW Tala HEP; the 336 MW Chukha HEP; and the 720 MW Mangdechhu HEP.
The Mangdechhu Hydroelectric project which is a success story of India-Bhutan cooperation in the Hydropower sector has recently won the prestigious Brunel Medal-2020. With the coming on stream of the India-Bhutan Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Power Project, the jointly created generation capacity by India in Bhutan has crossed 2000 MW.
India Allows Market Access to Bhutanese Agriculture Products
The market access which has come into immediate effect gained momentum during the Indian Trade Minister’s visit to Bhutan in February 2019.
Earlier, only two Bhutanese agro-products – asparagus and cardamom – were listed in the Plant Quarantine Order of India which means Bhutan could formally export only these two commodities to India. Products that are allowed market access are Areca nut, Mandarin, Apple, Potato, and Ginger from Bhutan to India.
Nitin Gadkari Laid the Foundation for Multi-Modal Logistics Park in Assam
The park will provide direct connectivity through rail, road and water to the people. The multi-modal logistic park is being developed under the ambitious Bharatmala Pariyojna and the overall cost is Rs 693.97 crore.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari virtually laid the foundation stone for the first-ever multi-modal logistic park in Assam. The event was presided over by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and will be attended by Union Ministers Jitendra Singh, V K Singh and officials from the Centre and state.
Shipping Ministry Issued Draft ‘Coastal Shipping Bill, 2020’ for Public Consultation
The Bill proposes to do away with the requirement of trading licence for Indian flag vessels for coastal trade, besides creating a competitive environment to reduce transportation costs.
The Bill also proposes the integration of coastal maritime transport with inland waterways. Citizens can submit their suggestions and opinions regarding the draft bill to coastalshipping2020@gmail.com.
Can Sahibganj Become the Mini-Rotterdam of East India?
Sahibganj of Jharkhand, located close to the Siliguri corridor on the banks of the Ganga, can be transformed into a transit hub for goods, energy and people, to and from east India, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Its strategic location prompted the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to build India’s second riverine Multi-Modal Terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj district, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated in September 2019. An L&T team from Chennai built the terminal for Rs 290 crore.
Modernisation of Civil Aviation Sector to Transform Connectivity in BBIN
The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) countries should strive for enhancing collaboration in creating a viable civil aviation system with a focus on modernisation of airports, airlines, and air navigation systems and maintain air safety for strong and coordinated growth of the transport sector.
Integration of the transport network is crucial, particularly to Nepal and Bhutan and the north-eastern states of India. Such integration helps to end their landlocked or semi-remote status by providing shorter and quicker transport links to the seaports.
Nepal-Bangladesh to Sign PTA by 2020-end
The technical committee meeting was held in November to finalise the list of products, text of PTA and rules of origin.
The list of products under the PTA has been exchanged and will be discussed one by one by both delegations. The PTA is also one of the issues that prime ministers of both countries wanted to finalise as soon as possible, as per the government officials.
India-Nepal to Construct Integrated Check Post for Regional Connectivity
The project will be implemented by M/s Rajdeep Buildcon Pvt. Ltd; a Pune-based Indian company under the supervision of M/s RITES International Ltd. a Government of India undertaking.
The Integrated Check Post will have export and import cargo handling facilities, such as warehousing, including, refrigerated cargo facilities, medical, plant and animal quarantine areas, amenities for drivers and passenger, CCTV and other security systems, 24/7 power backup, waste-water treatment facilities, etc. to facilitate smooth movement of cargo and passenger vehicles.
Nepal to Fast-Track Rail Connection from Kathmandu to India
In a major boost to rail connectivity between India and Nepal, both the countries have agreed to fast-track the construction of a rail line from Kathmandu to the Indian mainland
The Nepalese authorities have permitted India's Konkan Railway Corporation Limited to carry out a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to connect Kathmandu with Raxaul railway station on the India-Nepal border, which is currently the only Indian city that is connected across the border to Nepal at Birjung
Asian Highway Now Connected with Nepal
The highway will facilitate trade with India, which, in turn, will also boost Nepal’s trade with Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Nepal is now connected to the Asian Highway, a 32-country road network that aims to expand intra-country trade and connectivity after India completed the work of widening the West Bengal-Kakadvitta section. This section of the highway will start at Bangkok, Thailand and pass through Myanmar, Bangladesh and India, and reach Karachi, Pakistan from New Delhi, via Nepal’s East-West Highway.
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