With the state government opening the border for Bangladeshi trucks three months following its closure due to COVID-19, trade between India and Bangladesh through the Petrapole-Benapole border in West Bengal recommenced on Sunday, as reported by officials. The cross-border truck transport began at 2 on Sunday afternoon.
On June 7, India had given the nod for export of goods from Petrapole, the largest land border port with Bangladesh.
However, due to fears emerging from the coronavirus crisis, the West Bengal government put forth their demand that truck drivers coming from Bangladesh undergo a 14-day quarantine, before entering the state with goods.
In consequence thereof, consignments were halted at land borders that led to an impasse at Petrapole-Benapole.
No exports to Bangladesh via the Petrapole border took place on Thursday due to the agitation by Bangladeshi traders and workers, demanding that India allow imports from Bangladesh.
“Finally, the West Bengal authority opened the border for Bangladeshi lorries this afternoon as we sent an emergency letter to New Delhi on Friday seeking the central government’s intervention.”~AK Abdul Momen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh
Momen said Bangladesh continued to allow Indian trucks inside its territory through the Petrapole- Benapole land port, “but the West Bengal authority refused to reciprocate” for the past three months due to fears erupting from the coronavirus outbreak.
The minister shared that the refusal by West Bengal eventually led to his office seeking New Delhi’s intervention on the issue.
Officials at Benapole Port said the West Bengal government restricted entry of Bangladeshi trucks since March 23, while the cross-border trade witnessed an impasse on Wednesday with Bangladesh also denying entry of Indian trucks entry through the land border.
Petrapole-Benapole land port accounts for 70 per cent of bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India.
On Friday, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) also sought intervention of Union Minister Piyush Goyal to resolve the issue. This had led to exporters expressing serious concerns over the impasse, underlining that should the stalemate continue, it would impact bilateral trade.
Meanwhile, the trade between Bangladesh and India remained unhindered through Akhaura point bordering Tripura.