Dhaka has reiterated its demand for removing countervailing duties on Bangladeshi products by New Delhi for narrowing yawning trade gap which is heavily in India’s favour.
Both commerce minister Tofail Ahmed and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin made the call during a meeting attended by visiting Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley held in Dhaka on Tuesday.
At the discussion organised by the FBCCI to interact with the Indian businessmen accompanying Jaitley, Tofail said trade between the two neighbouring countries doubled to $6.4 billion from $3.1 billion in six years.
The high trade growth is mainly driven by imports of India to Bangladesh, he noted.
He demanded that anti-dumping duty on import of jute goods slapped by the Indian authorities in January be withdrawn so that Bangladesh could increase its exports to India.
Bangladesh’s exports to India stood at only $600 million against its imports from the same country at the tune of $5.4 billion in the 2016-17 fiscal that ended in June.
Tofail also demanded implementation of quota- and duty-free access of 290 Bangladeshi products to Indian market as pledged by New Delhi during the previous regime of the present Indian ruling party.
Interestingly, Jaitley was the commerce minister then, said Tofail.
The Indian finance minister, however, did not give any assurance that he would look into the demands, but stressed the need for dialogue to solve the problems.
Noting that Bangladesh’ progress is very crucial for India, Jaitley hoped that both the countries would able to solve the problems through bilateral discussion.
He said India is a large market and it always welcomes any investment.
‘I think we can use an organised forum to explore the potentialities for the welfare of the people of the two countries,’ Jaitley added.
He did not say anything about the Rohingya issue also.
Mohiuddin expected positive role from India in the pressing issue that has threatened to destabilise peace in the region.
The FBCCI president said businessmen wanted ‘peace’ and hoped that India would play a positive role in repatriation of thousands of Rohingyas who crossed the border into Bangladesh to flee bloody crackdown by Myanmar military in its Rakhine State.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Pankaj Patel also spoke on the occasion.
He gave emphasis on development of infrastructure for better economic integrity between the countries sharing many common things like history, culture and customs.
Indian high commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Sringhla was also present in the meeting.
Jaitley who arrived on Tuesday afternoon on a three-day visit is expected to sign two deals with Bangladesh finance minister AMA Muhith today.
The first deal is on the third Indian Line of Credit worth $4.5 billion and the second one on ‘The Joint Interpretative Notes on the Agreement between India and Bangladesh for the Promotion and Protection of Investments’.
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