Dhaka, Delhi to hold trial run soon to launch express courier service

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 21 Aug 2017, 22:15:58
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Dhaka, Delhi to hold trial run soon to launch express courier service

Aimed at facilitating carrying documents, product samples
Syful Islam


Bangladesh and India will soon hold a dual trial run to introduce express courier service by road to facilitate carrying important documents and product samples of export-oriented industry, officials said.

Presently, these documents and samples are being carried by air. As a result, the businessmen claim they have to pay additional 40-45 per cent as carrying cost which ultimately raises the production cost of goods.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are being affected seriously because of high carrying cost of these important documents, they noted.

Some 2,000 to 2,500 courier consignments are being delivered through Dhaka airport every day, according to officials.  

A joint taskforce of the two countries will meet in Kolkata on Tuesday to discuss the ways and remove impediments to holding the dual trial run. Prime Minister's economic adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman will lead the Bangladesh side in the meeting.

Former president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and adviser to Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) Trustee Board Asif Ibrahim told the FE on Sunday that a decision will be taken at the meeting on how to begin courier service and hold the trial run shortly.

BUILD chief executive officer (CEO) Ferdaus Ara Begum said there is huge potential to flourish e-commerce business in Bangladesh. Many Indian entrepreneurs are interested to get products from Bangladesh through e-commerce for their own market as well as to deliver to third countries.

Citing an example, she said Indians are fond of Bangladesh's silk sarees which can be sent there through a dependable currier service. The carrying cost of goods will come down significantly if those can be sent by road instead of by air. She said introduction of courier service by road, facilitating e-commerce, is necessary to will help further grow SMEs in Bangladesh.

The CEO of BUILD said there is an adequate scope of running such courier service both by road, by train and waterways and the governments of the two countries need to take steps in this regard.

"Under the WTO trade facilitation agreement, there is provision for domestic transit. In absence of a motor vehicle agreement, Bangladesh and India can launch express courier service under that agreement," she said replying to a query.

The BUILD, a public-private dialogue and research body along with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), India is organising  the joint taskforce meeting, she said.

Two similar dual trial runs of courier services were held in the past-one in November 2015 on Kolkata-Agartala-Dhaka route, and another in January 2016 on Dhaka-Delhi route.

The DHL Global and Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association (BAFFA) helped to hold trial run.

According to officials, presently the Maitree Express Train running between Dhaka and Kolkata has eight round trips a week. In last fiscal year, some 0.715 million tonnes of goods were transported by Maitree Express Train through Benapole-Petrapole route.

There are 75 luggage vans in Maitree Express Train by which 60 tonnes of goods can be transported each time. Railway can be a good mode for carrying courier consignments if required facilities are developed, they noted.

Bangladeshi businesses allege that despite duty-free and quota-free market access, export of goods to India is not rising significantly due to various non-tariff and para-tariff barriers.

The bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India reached over US$ 6.0 billion which is highly tilted towards India. In the fiscal year 2015-16, Bangladesh exported goods worth $ 689 million to India and imported goods worth $ 5.452 billion from the neighbouring country.

Bangladesh mainly exports woven garments, knitwear, home textile, agri-products, frozen food, leather and leather products, footwear, raw jute, jute goods, and bicycle. On the other hand, Bangladesh imports cotton, cotton yarn, cotton fabrics, vehicles, nuclear reactor, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances, cereals, edible vegetables, iron and steel.

     syful-islam@outlook.com
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