India and Bangladesh have underscored their dedication to strengthening customs cooperation and fostering smoother cross-border trade through the conclusion of their 14th Joint Group of Customs (JGC) meeting in New Delhi on August 21-22. The meeting, co-chaired by high-ranking officials from both nations, addressed a range of important topics to bolster bilateral trade relations.
During the 14th JGC meeting, a comprehensive agenda was deliberated, including critical matters such as the establishment of new land customs stations, the reduction of port restrictions, the enhancement of road and rail infrastructure, the pre-arrival exchange of customs data, and the formulation of a bilateral agreement on customs cooperation. These discussions reflect the commitment of both countries to ensure smoother trade processes and facilitate enhanced connectivity.
The India-Bangladesh Joint Group of Customs meetings, held annually, are a pivotal platform for discussions on customs cooperation and cross-border trade facilitation. These meetings significantly contribute to improving trade infrastructure and connectivity for seamless customs clearance at land borders, fostering better bilateral trade relationships.
Currently, there are a total of 62 land customs stations situated along the India-Bangladesh border, spanning states such as West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. These customs stations comprise various land border crossing points, railway stations, and riverbanks/ports.
India has recently undertaken a series of trade-facilitative measures in this context. Notably, exports from Bangladesh to India via rail in closed containers have been enabled, with customs clearance available at any Inland Container Depot (ICD). Additionally, cargo exports from Indian ICDs to Bangladesh have been streamlined using inland waterways. Transshipment of containerized export cargo from Bangladesh destined for third countries, through India using riverine and land routes, has also been paved by recent circulars.
During the meeting, India expressed gratitude to Bangladesh for successfully completing trial runs and issuing notifications to operationalize the Agreement on Use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports (ACMP), a decision that stemmed from the 13th JGC meeting. Both sides also initiated discussions on electronic connectivity of the respective transit modules of ACMP, highlighting their commitment to advancing trade cooperation.
The successful conclusion of this bilateral meeting reaffirms the dedication of both countries to fostering cooperative efforts in areas of mutual interest, ultimately paving the way for smoother customs processes and more robust cross-border trade relations.