Third Joint Working Group Meeting on the Agreement on the Movement of Traffic (Goods) in Transit

The Department of Trade, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan and the Ministry of Commerce, Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh convened the 3rd Joint Working Group (JWG) Meeting on the Agreement on the Movement of Traffic (Goods) in Transit on June 1, 2022 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Bhutanese delegation was led by Mr. Sonam Tenzin, Director General, Department of Trade and the Bangladesh delegation was led by Mr. Md. Abdus Samad Al Azad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce. The meeting finalized the text of the agreement and its protocol and exchanged the signed minutes of the meeting and the finalized agreement and protocol. The agreement and protocol will be tabled at the Commerce Secretary Level Meeting of the two Governments for endorsement and subsequently to the Parliament for ratification. Once ratified by the two respective countries, movement of goods in transit (both imports and exports) through Bangladesh will be allowed for Bhutan including the exit through the sea ports of Mongla, Payra and Chattogram.

On June 2, 2022 the Bhutanese delegation also met with the Ministry of Shipping and related stakeholders in continuation to the 2nd Joint Technical Committee (JTC) meeting towards the amendment of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the MoU on the Use of Inland Waterways between Bangladesh and Bhutan. The Bangladesh delegation was led Mr. A.T.M Monemul Haque, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Shipping. The meeting finalised and exchanged the signed minutes of the 2nd JTC meeting. The Bangladesh side agreed to designate Aricha, Chilmari, Sirajganj, Mongla, Chattogram and Payra Port as the new ports of call for use by Bhutan. Bahadurabad was also agreed as an extended port of call of Chilmari. These ports of call will be formalized upon the signing of the revised SOP between the two countries at a mutually convenient date.

The agreement and the amendment of the SOP are expected to provide alternative export and import transit routes and modes of transportation (with increased ports of call) for the private sector. It will also help to promote, facilitate, expand and deepen trade relations between Bhutan and Bangladesh and be complementary to the Preferential Trade Agreement that will come into effect from July 1, 2022.

The Bhutanese delegation comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Economic Affair; Road Safety and Transport Authority, Ministry of Information and Communication; Department of Revenue and Customs, Ministry of Finance and the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Dhaka.