Bangladesh has signed a $150 million loan agreement with the World Bank to modernize trade infrastructure, systems and procedures.These improvements will help Bangladesh increase regional connectivity and trade with India, Bhutan, and Nepal, the World Bank has said in a statement.
The project will develop and improve four land ports Bhomra, Sheola, Ramgarh, and Benapole. These land ports are the key to facilitating regional and transit trade, especially with India.These improvements will help Bangladesh increase trade and freight volumes and reduce truck clearance time at border posts. For example, truck clearance time at Bhomra land port will be reduced to 12 hours from 72 hours.
"Bangladesh has enormous potential to increase trade with its neighbors, particularly India. Currently, its trade with India is only less than half of its current potential," said Qimiao Fan, country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
"By addressing the key barriers to trade, especially transport and clearance delays, Bangladesh can become more competitive regionally and globally, and reach more emerging and dynamic markets with diversified product mix, including higher-value garments," he added.
"Bangladesh has doubled its world market share in exports between 1995 and 2012, and more than doubled in value in the last five years. But, the potential is much higher," said Kazi Shofiqul Azam, secretary of the Economic Relations Division.
"Geographically, Bangladesh can play an important role in regional trade and logistics networks, and as a transit country in South Asia. The project will help Bangladesh take advantage of its strategic location to increase exports and lower import costs."
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's concessional lending arm. The credits are interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 percent.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence. Since then the World Bank has committed more than $26 billion in grants and interest-free credits to Bangladesh.
-AA Business Desk
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