Container vessel MV Harbour-1 owned by Neepa Paribahan will become part of the bilateral trade history between India and Bangladesh as it gets ready to sail to Chittagong from Krishnapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh on Monday, said officials.
"The newly-built container vessel will sail back on Monday to Bangladesh with containers loaded with cotton. The vessel will be the first ship to carry cargo between India and Bangladesh after the four-decade-old trade agreements was revived last year during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to that country," Krishnapatnam Port Company Ltd director and CEO Anil Yendluri told reporters here.
According to him, the trade agreement was first signed in 1974 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was in office.
A standard operating procedure was signed between India and Bangladesh last November to move commercial cargo between the two countries and also stating the provisions and procedures to be followed for such movement.
As per the agreement, ships of both the countries will be treated as domestic vessels and charges will be levied accordingly.
The provision will play a key role in addressing the traffic congestion at Petrapole (India) and Benapole (Bangladesh) - the two land border points which pose as one of the biggest impediments to the movement of EXIM cargo.
This will also offer to reduce the paperwork required at the customs check points and port dues paid at Indian ports too will be at par with Indian vessels.
The vessel and cargo will also enjoy complete Protection and Indemnity (P&I) coverage insuring cargo from the point of loading to the final destination and till the time the parcel reaches the final consignee.
Currently it takes around 20-25 days for a shipment from Bangladesh to reach India and now it would take just seven days.
"Using Krishnapatnam Port will save time and money for Bangladesh vessels as they currently go first to Colombo for transhipment and then reach other Indian ports," said Bangladesh parliamentarian Noor-e-Alam Chowdhury.
He said Bangladesh imports huge quantities of cotton from India apart from other goods.
Bangladesh Cotton Association president Badsha Mia said: "Bangladesh is largest cotton importer. Last year more than 50 percent of cotton consumption in Bangladesh was imported for its garment industry largely based in Dhaka."
Cotton will be the anchor cargo for Bangladesh out of Krishnapatnam Port to begin with and there is good potential for shipping out tyres and other products, said director Vinita Venkatesh.
"Lot of Indian goods move by road to Bangladesh. We will now target that segment which will be challenging," Venkatesh added.
She said one can now send goods to the northeastern states of India easily by shipping goods to Bangladesh first.
As much as 92 percent of the country's export import trade and draw cargo from western, central and southern India headed to Bangladesh.
A lot of cargo can get diverted from road to sea through this initiative and exporters can benefit from rate and transit advantage. A lot of yarn from Punjab's Ludhiana can directly go to Krishnapatnam instead of going to Mundra.