Indian exporters are under deep trouble following tussle between two major political powers in Bangladesh that has pulled down export volume between the two major south Asian trade partners to rock bottom. Pushed to a difficult corner, exporters have urged the Union Ministry of Commerce to persuade for a diplomatic level initiative into the matter.
“Due to political unrest there, Sona Masjid land port has gone under a closer. Eventually, that has caused heavy clogging of loaded trucks with its spiraling effect in Indian side of the border too. The trade gate, that handles a flow of around 500 trucks a day, is now jammed with over 1500 stranded vehicles,” said Ujjal Saha, President, Mahadipur Exporters Association.
The stalemate began when supporters of the Awami League organized celebrations earlier this week on the party’s victory in last year’s general election. The celebration was countered by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party causing a wide spread violence and severe unrest causing Sona Masjid too to go under closer.
Sona Masjid is the second largest external trade gate for Bangladesh. Being initiated in 1991 as Land Customs Station, this was elevated to Land Port status in 2006. Naturally, load through this is much higher compared to many other land customs stations.
Trouble for the exporters is multipronged. First, it will compel them to pay additional compensatory waiting charge of Rs 50 per ton per day to the transporters. Next, many of these stranded trucks are loaded with fruits or other perishable items those cannot withstand this waiting and ought to face rejection by the buyers. More importantly, this stranded fleet of loaded trucks for miles on road under open sky is giving birth of an underworld workflow- explained Saha.
“We have requested Indian Commerce and Industries Ministry to take it up with Bangladesh Government at Diplomatic level. In parallel, Federation of Indian Exporters organization is also expected to talk on this to all concerned,” said Saha.
India is the largest trade partner of Bangladesh with huge trade balance in own favour. During 12-13 FY, Indian export volume was Rs 28k crore with 52 per cent growth over previous year against import of only Rs 3.5k crore and its 24 per cent growth. Naturally, any hindrance in the smooth passage of gods through the borders causes higher amount of loss for Indian side compared to Bangladesh.
-The Economic Times