Due to introduction of a new online trade management system — Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) – the India-Bangladesh trade through Tripura has been hugely affected for the past two weeks, traders and officials said on Monday.
A customs official said that the EDI was introduced on August 5 in all the border trade centers in the Northeastern states along the India-Bangladesh border to improve efficiency, ensure transparency and for online payments of trade between the two countries.
Traders in the Agartala-Akhaura check-post said that on account of the introduction of the new system (EDI), trade between India and Bangladesh has come to a stop since August 5.
“Both the custom officials and the traders are completely unfamiliar with the new system, causing ineffective operation of the EDI system. Before introduction of the new system the authorities must train, both customs officials and traders,” Haradhan Roy, a spokesman of the Indian exporters, told media persons here.
The second-largest trading point between India and Bangladesh after Petrapole (India)–Benapole (Bangladesh) along the West Bengal border, the Agartala-Akhaura check post is doing average annual trade of around Rs 350 crore.
“The EDI has been introduced in the Northeastern states of late, and we are hopeful that the current hitches would be resolved soon. The slow network of BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) and other private operators are also causing the ineffective operation of the EDI,” a customs official said.
Local newspapers and several reports in the Bangladeshi media said that around a hundred goods trucks have been stranded on the Bangladeshi side due to these technical issues.
Prices of fish in Tripura markets are rising fast owing to stoppage in imports of fish from Bangladesh during the past fortnight.
In the EDI system, submission of trade-related documents and papers and payment of various duties have to be made online using the digital system.
Traders at the Agartala-Akhaura check post and six other Land Customs Stations (LCS) said that they are completely unfamiliar with the EDI system causing stoppage of border trade.
There are a total of 39 LCS in the seven Northeastern states. Of these, 32 LCS are on the India-Bangladesh border, three are on the India-Myanmar border, and four are located on the India-Bhutan border.