The Indian government should take initiative to resolve a stand-still of cross-border trade on the largest land port between Dhaka and New Delhi, said the Bangladeshi foreign minister on Thursday.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency over the recent halt of trade across the Benapole land port due to protests from Bangladeshi traders, AK Abdul Momen said both countries’ officials had held several meetings to resume the movement of lorries laden with goods that was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He noted that following the mutual consensus between Dhaka and New Delhi, the Bangladeshi side has been allowing Indian trucks into Bangladesh. However, the government of the Indian state of West Bengal bordering Bangladesh did not allow any Bangladeshi trucks into the country, he claimed.
"Indian provincial government is ignoring the decision of the central government,” he said, adding: "It is the responsibility of the Indian government to solve the crisis. We have been allowing their lorries and so they must allow ours.”
However, Dhaka did not and will not contact the West Bengal government, he underlined noting that the Indian central government and the provincial government should come together and solve the crisis.
Lorries queue at border crossing
Nearly 500 Indian lorries were seen waiting on the other side of the border to cross into Bangladesh, said local media reports.
According to the port authorities, the trucks have been barred from entering Bangladesh since Wednesday night following the protest of five traders’ associations that used the border for overseas trade.
They accused the local government in India of barring Bangladeshi trucks for more than three months, saying as many trucks were waiting on the Bangladeshi side.
Bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded $10 billion in 2019 out of which the volume of Bangladeshi exports was only $1 billion, according to the Engineering Export Promotion Council of India. The greater portion of this bilateral trade is reportedly being done through this port.
Meanwhile, Indian media also reported on the concerns of Bangladeshi exporters.
“No export after June 29 to Bangladesh. A large number of trucks loaded with Indian goods are not being allowed,” confirmed Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general of the Confederation of All India Traders that represents over 70 million traders in India.
Without stating details, he added India allowed export of goods from Petrapole, the largest land border port with Bangladesh, on June 7 but has not allowed import of goods from Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh has stopped importing since this morning on the ground that their exports are not accepted by India even though we have taken our export cargo. There is a stalemate at the border," Sushil Patwari, chairman of the Federation of Indian Exporter Organisations told local media. [Source: Anadolu Agency]
*Cheena Kapoor from Delhi contributed to this story