India and Bangladesh on Sunday signed the standard operating procedure (SOP) to launch the ‘Agreement on Coastal Shipping’, which is expected bring down the logistic costs of export-import cargo between the two countries.

The pact was signed between the two countries in June 2015.

SOP provisions The SOP has provisions that stipulate that the two neighbours shall render same treatment to the other country's vessels as it would have done to its national vessels used in international sea transportation, a Shipping Ministry release said. The two sides have also agreed upon the use of vessels of River Sea Vessel (RSV) category for Indo-Bangladesh coastal shipping.

The two countries are also holding Shipping Secretary-level talks on issues relating to the memorandum of understanding on passenger and cruise vessel movement, discussion on the protocol to operationalise the MoU on use of Mongla and Chittagong ports, payment of transit fees and bank guarantee, dredging of rivers in the protocol route using Regional IDA Assistance of World Bank Assistance and various upcoming port projects in Bangladesh.

River protocol During this financial year, India, for the first time, is using the Indo-Bangladesh river protocol to transport foodgrains via Ashuganj to Tripura. 

However, the quantum of cargo has not picked up because of low draft in the upper reaches of Bangladesh rivers and also because of certain non-trade barriers, the release added.