Bangladeshi Importers Ban Indian Goods in a Tit-for-Tat Move

Bangladesh has banned imports from India via land route following New Delhi's refusal to allow Bangladeshi trucks bring in goods. Bangladeshi traders complain, the Indian ban is causing them heavy losses.

Posted on 07/3/20
By Mohammad Zainal Abedin | Via ViewsWeek
Bangladesh-India border at Benapole in Jassore District.
None can think it today in what way India will exploit and deceive Bangladesh tomorrow. Since 1972 India applies this ugly trick against Bangladesh. It never showed or practiced sincerity or honored its commitment to universal norms of diplomacy.  New Delhi’s most recent behavior centering bilateral trade through land route is a classic example of how it treats with Bangladesh, continuing practice spanning over almost five decades.

It has stopped importing Bangladeshi products via land route while continuing to push its products into Bangladeshi markets. Since June 7, some 4,188 Indian goods-laden trucks entered Bangladesh. But no more, at least from Benapole land port in Jessore district. Angry Bangladeshi exporters have stopped importing products from India via land route until New Delhi allows Bangladeshi products in.

Bangladesh says its trade deficit with India has gone up over the past three months and Bangladeshi exporters are sustaining heavy losses due to the Indian ban. Chairman of Benapole land port authority Tapan Kumar Chakravarty says nearly 500 trucks of export goods are stuck in Benapole port for the last three months. The government of India and Indian traders allow export of Indian products to Bangladesh but do not allow Bangladeshi products into India.

The two countries suspended bilateral land trade through Benapole in March following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. the two sides have been holding talks to resume the bilateral trade and decided to reopen their respective border. According to mutual understanding, Indian vehicles carrying Indian goods started entering Bangladesh from June 6. However, according to Bengali language daily ‘The Inqilab’, India is violating bilateral trade agreement and doesn’t allow the Bangladeshi trucks to enter Indian territory without giving any reason.

The Indian policy is causing huge economic losses to Bangladeshi businesses. Bangladeshi vehicles loaded with export goods, including perishable ones, are stuck on the Bangladesh side of the border for days. Bangladeshi traders complain that such incidents have happened thousands of times during the last 48 years.

The daily said, Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce have been active to end the crisis through diplomatic channels, but India remained silent till the filing of this report on July 4. Bangladeshi officials, including its Foreign Minister, have expressed disappointment over Indian attitude and said it is not honoring its commitments on bilateral trade.

Another Bengali language daily, Sangram, said about 500 trucks carrying goods, including garments and jute products, are stranded at Benapole land port on Bangladeshi side. As it is a rainy season in Bangladesh now, these products may be damaged.  Bangladeshi exporters have to pay large amount of truck demurrage due to  India’s undeclared embargo. In retaliation, Bangladesh has also banned the entry of Indian trucks into Bangladesh.

India used to import hilsha fish from Bangladesh. On many occasions when Bangladeshi trucks went to Benapole loaded with hilsha fish, the Indian custom officers would not let them in. As fish is a perishable product, the truck drivers used to face unimaginable problems and heavy losses. They could neither hand over the fish to their Indian counterparts nor bring them back. Finding no way, they used to sell those fish to the Indian fish-sellers at a minimal price.

It is alleged, the Indian government deliberately created this situation. Indian fish-sellers would get the fish at virtually throwaway price. Bangladesh never took retaliatory measures against India, which even dumped rotten onions or rice or wheat to Bangladesh though they were purchased at a higher rate. India on many occasion suspended exports of those edible items to create shortages and stoke price hike in Bangladesh.

Many in the Bangladesh business community are scornful of India’s unilateral trade practices and are calling upon Dhaka to review all such treaties that benefit India more than Bangladesh. Such treaties, they demand, must be renegotiated to safeguard Bangladesh’s national interests. India-Bangladesh bilateral trade has been increasing over the years, reaching all time high at 10.47 billion dollars in 2018-19.

If Bangladesh undertakes all such steps that safeguards its trade interests now, it will save the region from a bigger standoff with its neighbor. Also, there its a growing realization in Bangladesh that it should not depend entirely on India for its international business. It should find new markets for its products. If landlocked Nepal can abandon and defy India, why Bangladesh should be scared of India? *

Mohammad Zainal Abedin, is a New York-based journalist & researcher

 

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the ViewsWeek.com. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. 

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One comment

  1. Muhammad Alamgir Khan

    RSS dominated Indian government is doing exactly what all Fascists do. Clad beneath the thinly veiled farcical facade of ‘DEMOCRACY’ Modi and his henchmen are displaying attitudes towards all their neighbours which are vividly reminiscent of attitudes displayed by Hitler and his gang of goons towards their neighbours. By suspending imports from India, Bangladeshi government is doing the right thing. While the prevailing impasse may end in coming days and weeks, Indian government is bound to repeat unannounced or announced ban in not too distant a future. Like all pragmatic business communities elsewhere, the Bangladeshi business community should also hedge their bets by looking for alternate markets. Expanding their existing trade portfolio with China will be a good idea. After all only recently China has extended good trade concessions to Bangladesh,with some effort the existing arrangement can made sweeter.

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