Hydropower cooperation and the establishment of a Transit Transport Co-ordination Council will top the agenda when commerce secretaries of Bangladesh and Bhutan meet this month, officials said.
The commerce secretary-level meeting between the two countries is scheduled to take place between March 23 and March 24 in the Bhutanese capital of Thimpu.
The ministry of commerce (MoC) sits today (Tuesday) to finalise the country's position and issues to be discussed in the secretary-level meeting.
"We will discuss hydropower cooperation, movement of goods and other issues for boosting trade between the two countries during the secretary-level meeting," a high official of the ministry told the FE.
The issues that are likely to be discussed in the upcoming meeting include facilitation of transit trade, transit routes, general condition for transit and transportation, licencing of transport operators and mutual recognition of driving licence, mutual recognition of inspection certificate, harmonisation and simplification of customs procedures and prevention of prohibited, dangerous and environmentally-hazardous goods.
Besides, the issues, which were discussed in the last commerce secretary level meeting held in December 2015 in Dhaka, will also come up for discussion in the meeting.
At present, export and import between Bangladesh and Bhutan are going on via two land customs stations-Burimari and Tamabil.
The Bhutanese government proposed Bangladesh for more land customs stations that include Moghalhat, Noonkhawa, Nakugaon, Haluaghat and Banglabandha-for export, import operations and transit purposes.
Besides, Thimphu has been requesting Dhaka to allow it for using the country's Chittagong seaport, Chittagong airport, Mongla seaport and Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka for transit of goods.
With the signing of motor vehicle agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, an opportunity has been created for a broad-based transit facility between the countries.
The Bhutanese parliament is yet to ratify the motor vehicle agreement.
Bangladesh and Bhutan signed a transit agreement in 1980, but it did not come into effect fully because of non-cooperation from India, officials said.
Ready-made garments, pharmaceuticals, melamine, toilet soap, dry food, fruit juice and mineral water are being exported to Bhutan from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh imports fresh fruits, paper and paper boards, crushed stones, coffee and spices from Bhutan.
Bangladesh exported goods worth US$4.74 million to the land-locked Bhutan in the fiscal year (FY) 2015-2016 against its imports of $21.60 million during the period, showing a trade ratio of 1:4.55, according to the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).