Bangladesh crisis casts shadow over cross-border trade with India

Last Updated: Mon, Mar 04, 2013 13:30 hrs

Kolkata, March 4 (IANS) The ongoing unrest in Bangladesh has significantly slowed down its cross-bordet bilateral trade with neighbouring India.

On the Indian side, more than 2,500 Bangladesh-bound trucks, loaded with perishable goods like vegetables and fruits besides other non-perishable items, were stranded along the four land customs stations in West Bengal.

Amitava Mitra, general secretary of West Bengal's apex truckers body Sara Bangla Truck Parichalak Sangathan Samannay Samity, Monday said movement of trucks through Petrapole border in the state's North 24 Parganas has become very slow.

The Petrapole border accounts for nearly 80 percent of the total trade between the two countries.

"Cross-border trade at Benapole-Petrapole border (Benapole is the border on the Bangladesh side) had been at a standstill till Friday. Since then, some movement of trucks into Bangladesh has started but it has been very slow," Mitra told IANS.

According to him, the worst hit has been the land customs station at Mahadipur in Malda district as well as Ghojadanga in North 24 Parganas.

"Even now, about 400 trucks are stranded at Mahadipur," Mitra said.

He said that on an average per day loss to Indian exporters due the crisis could touch Rs.40 lakh as most of the stranded trucks are carrying perishable commodities such as vegetables and fruits.

The turmoil also hit Bangladeshi exporters as India-bound trucks loaded with freshwater fish and raw jute were moving very slowly.

Bangladesh has been witnessing a nationwide turmoil over the death sentences to Jaamat leaders for their crimes during the 1971 liberation movement. Continuing clashes claimed more than 60 lives in the country till Sunday.

Industry body Assocham said the continuing turmoil in Bangladesh has already affected the country's trade with eastern India.

"Trade has certainly been affected with Bangladesh in the eastern region," said Assocham co-chairman (east and northeast) Debmallya Banerjee.

"There is a question mark over the bilateral trade between the two countries. The current situation in Bangladesh will further worsen the trade prospects," he added.

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