The Case for Upgrading India-Bangladesh KPIs

The lack of adequate infrastructure is at the root of South Asia’s appalling level of regional integration, which is only 5% according to the World Bank. As a result, logistics costs have increased, increasing the overall cost of doing business in the region. Different types of border management infrastructure, such as Land Customs Posts (LCS), Immigration Control Posts (ImCP) and consolidated facilities, such as Integrated Check Posts (ICP) and others Border Trade Centres, facilitate India’s land border trade with Bangladesh.

ICPs are land border entry and departure points that house various facilities, such as customs, immigration, border security, and quarantine, among others, all within a single area. of facilitation. In 2019-20, IBOs accounted for 40% of India’s total trade with Bangladesh.

India Status – Bangladesh ICP

Bangladesh is currently India’s fifth largest trading partner, with land trade accounting for almost 75% of total trade. The four active ICPs located at Petrapole, Agartala, Sutarkandi and Srimantapur handle most of this trade. Two PICs (in Agartala and Petrapole, respectively) were officially launched in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

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ICP Petrapole is the largest land port in South Asia, located along the international border between India and Bangladesh. It is located about 80 kilometers from Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. In terms of commercial and passenger traffic, Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh) is a major land border crossing for India and Bangladesh. ICP Petrapole is responsible for more than 30% of land traffic between India and Bangladesh. Since its launch in February 2016, it has seen a steady increase in passenger traffic, with an average of 2.2 million people crossing the border post each year from both sides.

ICP Agartala is the largest international trading land port in northeast India, with an average of 80 to 100 trucks full of various commercial products arriving in Tripura daily from Bangladesh. On average, Rs 3 to 4 crore transactions take place through ICP Agartala.

Impact and challenges

By bringing all the relevant agencies under one roof and thus significantly organizing the processes, the ICPs have changed the border crossings between India and Bangladesh. Cross-border transport has become easier and takes less time where facilities are operational. Passengers at checkpoints in Agartala and Petrapole reported better conditions.

It is also important to overcome several existing issues at the India-Bangladesh KPIs that hamper smooth connectivity. These issues include a lack of digitization in both countries’ ICPs, port limitations due to a lack of cargo handling infrastructure, and quarantine restrictions, among others.

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In particular, the lack of a mirror PKI infrastructure increases business barriers, limiting the convenience of doing business.

Go forward

The KPIs at the India-Bangladesh border show India’s willingness to provide world-class facilities at border checkpoints to boost trade and connectivity with its neighbour. The Agartala and Petrapolis ICPs have made significant progress, but much remains to be done. Government can learn from current PICs to avoid repeating their weaknesses and therefore improve those still under construction. Effective IBDs will be essential for India’s trade and its relationship with Bangladesh in the future. Hence, India needs to focus on regular upgrading of its facilities.

(The author is an independent researcher of South Asian affairs)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of DH.

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