India-Bangladesh trade resumes at Petrapole after West Bengal govt allows import cargo to come in

India-Bangladesh trade saw a partial resumption at Petrapole — the largest land port in Asia — on Sunday evening after the West Bengal government allowed vehicles from the neighbouring country to come into the State.

Five trucks carrying garments came in from Benapole (on the Bangladesh side), while a similar number of vehicles carrying fish from the southern States was allowed into Bangladesh, said sources.

Trade at this gateway had come to a standstill from July 1 onwards after a section of stakeholders in Bangladesh objected to the West Bengal government disallowing movement of trucks from Benapole to Petrapole. The State government had been concerned about the spread of Covid-19 into the border villages. Bangladesh on its part has claimed that Benapole was a green zone with no Covid cases there.

Following the stoppage of trade, some 700-800 odd trucks had been stuck on the Indian side, while another 500 vehicles were waiting on the Bangladesh side. a number of trucks had been diverted to the nearby land port of Gojadanga to avoid congestion there.

Bilateral trade

Petrapole, located 100 kms from the city, in the North 24 Paraganas district, accounts for nearly 47 per cent of the $11 billion India-Bangladesh bilateral trade.

“Truck movements have resumed with both sides agreeing to follow certain standard operating procedures. We hope that things will normalise over the next one to two days,” Karthik Chakraborty, Secretary, Petrapole Clearing Agents’ Staff Welfare Association told BusinessLine.

Verbal Assurance

On Sunday, stakeholders – including traders from both the nations – raised the issue of stoppage of trade and district administrative officials to resolve the deadlock. While there have been no written assurances from the local administration in West Bengal, sources said, has verbally communicated to follow standard operating procedures which include taking precautions, maintaining social distancing norms, sanitisation of vehicles, regular medical test of drivers and workers and so on.

Trade resumed June 7 onwards.

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