The 14th bilateral assembly of the Joint Group of Customs (JGC) involving India and Bangladesh took place in New Delhi on August 21st and 22nd, 2023. The co-chairpersons for the meeting were the Member in charge of Customs from the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs in India, and the Member responsible for Customs: Audit, Modernization, and International Trade from the National Board of Revenue in Bangladesh.
This annual rendezvous between India and Bangladesh serves as a platform to delve into matters related to customs collaboration and the facilitation of cross-border trade. A pivotal outcome of these meetings is the bolstering of connectivity and the augmentation of trade infrastructure to ensure seamless customs clearance at terrestrial frontiers. Along the expanse of the India-Bangladesh Border, situated in the regions of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram, a network of 62 Land Customs Stations, encompassing land border crossing junctures, railway terminals, and riverbanks/ports, orchestrates the movement of goods and people.
Notably, India has recently undertaken various strides in facilitating trade, exemplified by measures such as permitting exports from Bangladesh to India via rail in enclosed containers. This initiative incorporates customs clearance capabilities at any Inland Container Depot (ICD), thereby contributing to the alleviation of congestion at border trade nodes. Additional circulars, dated September 9th, 2022, and September 14th, 2022, allow for cargo exports from Indian ICDs to Bangladesh through Inland Waterways and endorse transshipment of containerized export goods from Bangladesh, meant for third countries, through Indian routes. The circular of February 7th, 2023, extends the privilege of transshipping Bangladesh’s export cargo to third countries through Delhi Air Cargo.
Engaging in the discourse of the 14th JGC meeting were an array of bilateral matters, encompassing topics like inaugurating new land customs stations, ameliorating port restrictions, enhancing road and rail infrastructures, initiating the exchange of customs data prior to the arrival of shipments, and formalizing a mutual accord on customs cooperation. An expression of gratitude flowed from India to Bangladesh for their successful trial runs and subsequent notification to operationalize the Agreement on Use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports (ACMP), as decided during the 13th JGC meeting. Furthermore, discussions were ignited concerning the electronic interconnection of the respective transit modules of ACMP.
With shared commitment, the bilateral meeting culminated on a successful note, with both sides pledging to advance their collaboration in domains of mutual interest.