Bhutan seeks to use BD sea, air, land ports Sends draft transit protocol to MoFA Bhutan seeks to use BD sea, air, land ports Nazmul Ahsan Bhutan wants to use the seaports and airports of Bangladesh along with five new land customs (LC) stations under a proposed Protocol on Transit between Bangladesh and Bhutan, official sources said. Bhutan has recently sent the draft Protocol on Transit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) ahead of the Commerce Secretary-level meeting between the two South Asian countries, scheduled to be held in Thimphu on May 9 next. "Bhutan is eager to strike a deal with Bangladesh to use our seaports and airports under a proposed protocol on transit," a high official at the MoFA told the FE on Sunday. He said as the issue was related to the function of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), the draft protocol would soon be sent to MoC, with the specific observations of MoFA, for consideration. Currently, export and import between Bangladesh and Bhutan take place through two LC stations - Burimari and Tamabil. As per its proposal, Bhutan has sought seven LC stations including the existing two for export, import and transit purposes. The proposed new stations are Moghalhat, Noonkhawa, Nakugaon, Haluaghat and Banglabandha. Bhutan, in the protocol, has also sought to use the country's Chittagong seaport, Chittagong airport, Mongla seaport and Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International airport for transit purpose, according to the draft protocol on transit between Bangladesh and Bhutan, a copy of which has been obtained by the FE. Bangladesh and Bhutan earlier signed a transit agreement in 1980, but it did not come into effect fully, as India failed to reach an agreement on giving Bhutan a corridor and to allow it to use a strip of the Indian territory. Besides, the lack of any operation modality, the transit agreement between the countries could not come into full operation, a trade official said. Officials at the MoC said the issue of providing transit facilities to South Asian regional countries including India, Nepal and Bhutan would be finalised under a comprehensive formula as suggested by the Core Committee on Transit. "We are yet to get the go-ahead from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on initiating negotiations with interested countries for striking transit agreements," a senior trade official said. He said the report of the Core Committee on Transit had been submitted to PMO about three months back. However, the trade official said Bangladesh delegation at the forthcoming Commerce Secretary-level meeting would show its positive attitude towards transit between Bangladesh and Bhutan. Commerce Secretary Ghulam Hossain will lead a six-member delegation at the talks. The last Commerce Secretary-level meeting between the two countries was held in August 2008 in Dhaka. Officials at the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) said the agenda for the trade talks was yet to be finalised. However, they hinted that increasing trade volume between the two countries as well as facilitating bilateral business through establishing connectivity would get top priority at the meeting. Bangladesh exports to Bhutan items like ready-made garments, pharmaceuticals, melamine, toilet soap, dry food, fruit juice and mineral water. On the other hand, Bhutan exports products like fresh fruits, paper and paper boards, crushed stones, coffee and spices to Bangladesh.