In an effort to boost trade between India and Bangladesh, the first container train service from India reached Benapole Port in Bangladesh on Sunday, July 26, according to media reports.
The train service would connect various stations in Bangladesh like Benapole, Jessore, Singia, Noapara and BBW. The trains would have 60TEUs with a maximum tonnage of 27mt in each.
The two neighbouring countries signed an MoU in 2017. The trial run of the first container train from Kolkata to Bangabandhusetu West station (BBW) took place in April 2018.
The commencement of container train service is likely to uplift Indian sponge iron exports to Bangladesh at competitive price, among other trade benefits.
Small and Medium scale mills are hopeful for a positive change with this movement as currently sponge iron is being offered at $265-275/mt CPT Benapole which is cheaper compared to imported scrap.
However, in April-June 2020 period, sponge iron production registered a fall of 44.7pc to 133,000mt from 240,000mt in the prior year period on the back of COVID-19 related disruptions. Bangladesh remained the major importer of Indian sponge iron during the period with 78,000mt followed by Nepal with 15,000mt.
The two countries have even explored searoutes to strengthen trade ties. Earlier this month, the barge MV Pruthvi carrying 45TEUs of sponge iron was flagged off from Haldia port, 130km from Kolkata, on the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route. Additionally, new trade route to Northeastern states of India via Chattogram Port of Bangladesh had also opened on July 16.