New Delhi has put forward a proposal to Dhaka to sign a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) saying that the deal would boost bilateral trade between the two neighbours.
The country has also suggested that Bangladesh place a detailed plan through the official channel about its proposal of using Indian airports for export cargo shipment to third countries, particularly to the USA and European countries.
The developments came at a two-day commerce secretary-level meeting that ended on Thursday in Dhaka, commerce ministry officials said.
New Delhi’s trade officials came up with the proposal of signing CEPA while their counterparts from Dhaka raised the issue of trade gap between the two countries due to non-tariff and para-tariff barriers in export to India despite it allows duty-free market access to all Bangladeshi goods.
They said that the Bangladesh delegation led by commerce secretary Shubhashish Bose did not make any comment about the proposal but took note of the issue.
CEPA is a bilateral economic partnership agreement which is considered more than a free trade agreement as CEPA covers a wide range of economic sectors including goods, services, investment and other areas.
India has already signed such agreement with Japan and South Korea and started negotiations with Canada over signing such deal.
‘We did not make any commitment over the issue as it needs extensive discussions among policymakers, trade officials and experts as CEPA covers almost all economic issues,’ a member of the Bangladesh delegation on Thursday told New Age.
Bangladesh is getting duty-free market access to India for almost all products except 25 products including arms, tobacco and alcohol though there are many non-tariff and para-tariff barriers in place, he said.
Bangladesh will have to offer broad-scale facilities to India in line with the proposed CEPA, he said.
‘India will put the proposal in the diplomatic channel if Bangladesh agrees,’ he said.
The Indian delegation led by its commerce secretary Rita Teaotia also promised to consider reviewing the anti-dumping duty imposed on Bangladeshi jute goods if the government files a review appeal.
They cannot do anything directly as the issue is quasi-judicial in nature, the delegation said.
India also handed over a draft memorandum of understanding for signing for capacity building of Bangladesh Tariff Commission on trade safeguarding measures including anti-dumping duty.
Regarding the Bangladesh’s request to allow its businesses to use Indian airports particularly the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata of West Bengal for export cargo shipment, India said that they would scrutinise the proposal after getting it officially.
In a press statement, the Bangladesh commerce ministry said that the both delegations agreed to form a forum of chief executive officers to enhance bilateral cooperation between businesses of the two countries.
They also agreed to execute the decision of establishing six border markets within the next six months.
Currently, four border markets remain operational in border areas between the two countries.
India also sought duty benefits in export of sugar and spare parts for the motorcycle assembling industry to Bangladesh.
At the meeting, Bangladesh also raised, among other issues, recognition of BSTI certificate by India, testing facilities at the land customs stations in India, removal of port restriction and payment of export bills of Bangladeshi exporters by Indian Lilliput Kids Wear Ltd.
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