The Cabinet on Monday approved a proposal for signing the 'Inter-governmental Agreement on Dry Ports' which is expected to play a positive role in boosting regional and international connectivity, trade and commerce.
The decision to approve the proposal was taken at the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said a forum on Asian Ministers on Transport was held in 2009 in Bangkok where the member countries of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) decided to upgrade their dry ports or land ports to international standards.
The Escap formulated the agreement in 2013 and made arrangements for signing the agreement by the member countries at the Escap headquarters in Bangkok on November 4-8, 2013. Bangladesh did not sign the agreement at that time, he said.
“The intending member countries, including Bangladesh, will now have to sign the agreement at the UN headquarters in New York”, the Cabinet Secretary said.
He said the agreement has a provision of complying with some internationally guided principles while developing the land ports of the member countries which are connected with other countries.
“Some 54 countries in the Asia region have signed the agreement. The agreement will also help the country to get assistance from others in developing its land ports,” he added.
The land ports in Bangladesh to be covered under the agreement are Akhaura, Bibirbazar, Hili, Sona Masjid, Banglabandh, Bilonia, Tamabil, Benapole, Burimari, Teknaf, Bhomra and Ramgarh.
Under the deal, the ownership of the land ports could be public, private or Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) basis.
“While upgrading the land ports into international standards, there will be infrastructure developments, smooth receipt and dispatch of containers, warehousing, transshipment, inspection, customs control and regulatory framework,” he said.
Once Bangladesh signs the agreement, the Cabinet Secretary said, it will be possible to implement the Asian Highway Network and Trans Asian Railway Network while the regional and international connectivity would be strengthened.
The Cabinet was also apprised about the visit of Industries Minister at the first meeting of UNIDO Forum on Strategies and Instruments for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) held on June 23-24, 2014 at Vienna, the participation of the Commerce Minister in an international seminar titled 'Bangladesh Development Conference-2014 Globalization and Sustainability of Bangladesh Garment Industry' held at Harvard University in the USA on June 11-14, the participation of Bangladesh delegation, led by the State Minister for Finance, in the VII Astana Economic Forum and II World Anti-Crisis Conference held Kazakhstan on May 21-23, 2014.
Ministers and State Ministers and secretaries concerned attended the meeting.