Bangladesh, Bhutan signs transit agreement to facilitate trade

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To help the landlocked Himalayan nation reduce its dependence on India for transit, Bangladesh will open up three of its ports for Bhutan to facilitate trade with other countries, the Bhutanese government said on Thursday.

Bhutan depends solely on Indian ports for supply of essential goods, including fuel, and trade with other countries.

After years of negotiations, Bangladesh and Bhutan on wednesday signed a fresh transit agreement on opening the ports of Mongla, Payra and Chittagong, Bhutanese officials said.

“The agreement provides Bhutan with greater connectivity with necessary transit facilities for the movement of goods,” Bhutan’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment said in a statement seen by Reuters.

The agreement is expected to reduce the cost of transportation, said Bhutan’s Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Loknath Sharma.

Sanjeev Mehta, a professor of economics at the Royal Thimphu College in the Bhutanese capital, highlighted, that the new agreement will decrease Bhutan’s dependence on India for transit to a certain extent”.

In 2000, a similar treaty between Bhutan and Bangladesh expired. At present, Bhutan conducts its third country trade mostly from eastern and southern Indian ports.