Narinjara News

Burma  Bangladesh Border Trade resumes

Dhaka, 25
th February:  After a break of one year the border trade between Burma and Bangladesh has resumed at full force, reports the Inquilab, a Bengali daily from Dhaka on 22nd February.

The measures taken to increase revenue collection by present government in Bangladesh since its installation is beyond doubt remarkable, which though annoyed the smugglers in the beginning have been widely appreciated.  The border trade between the two neighbours has reopened making way for the traders so far scattered to come back again to the border town of Teknaf

The clearing and forwarding agents at Teknaf have been busy with the bustling activities at the Khayuk-khali (Kayu-chaung) creek, where vessels loaded with goods from both the countries are seen busy loading and unloading their merchandize.  The labourers are singing and whistling as they are engaged in their brisk rounds. 

A lot of change has taken place in the local circle of traders and workers in the last one year.  The merchants and traders of Teknaf advanced large amounts of money to the businessmen on the other side of the border.  Due to the impasse in the border trade many traders on the other side have gone into hiding.  Though the border trade at Teknaf resumed many of the Burmese traders have changed their profession or moved elsewhere.   At present more than a hundred businessmen from Teknaf are in Burma looking for those people and bring them once again to their previous positions.

Meanwhile the drives against fraudulent revenue collection practices have borne fruit and the revenue income has recorded a substantial increase.  Those traders who failed to carry on smuggling in the name of border trade have left the scene.  When asked some of the experienced traders who had dealings with the export and import with Burma said that, there is a powerful smuggling syndicate in Teknaf.  The godfather of the same syndicate controls the giant operations from Chittagong  the main seaport of Bangladesh, further north to Teknaf.  When the government decided to crack down on smuggling, the smuggling in the guise of border trade has stopped. 

Though smuggling by road stopped, the smuggling route through the open sea never stopped, rather it increased to tenfold (compared to previous volume of trade).  The stoppage of smuggling on land route opened up a golden opportunity for the smuggling syndicate, as it was easier to manoeuvre the entire operation from Chittagong

If the smuggling in the seas could not be checked, the border trade is doomed to face a tough challenge as revenue is being realized on land.  Whenever the government tried to step up its revenue collection the border trade underwent periods of slump.  At that time the smugglers in Chittagong make full use of the advantage.

If the government of Bangladesh fail to stop smuggling by sea the continuation of border trade and reaping benefits from it may fall through.   #