Bangladesh land port could boost trade

Bangladesh land port could boost trade

Bangladesh's first privately operated land port began operations Wednesday in an experiment that it hopes will boost trade with neighboring Myanmar.

The government has handed over the Teknaf land port, in southeast Bangladesh, to United Enterprises & Co. on a build, operate, and transfer basis. Shipping Minister Akbar Hossain said it was a win-win deal for the government as it had made no investment except in the land for the project, and will take in revenue of 800 million takas ($14 million) a year.

The success of the Teknaf project is expected to lead to direct road links with Myanmar.

Bangladesh earlier this year announced plans to privatize 12 land ports and inland cargo terminals to boost cross-border trade with its neighbors. Hossain said once fully developed, these land ports would curb smuggling, add revenue to the government's coffers, and protect the country's trade and investment.

Trade with India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar is valued at $1 billion annually. Officials argue that if the land ports were developed, the bulk of this trade would be conducted via the official route.

- N. Vasuki Rao in New Delhi