Bangladesh is going to sign its first ever preferential trade agreement with Bhutan on Sunday marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between the two Asian countries.
‘We have set December 6 for signing the PTA with Bhutan as the country (Bhutan) first recognised the independence of Bangladesh on the day of 1971 although the liberation war was still going on,’ commerce minister Tipu Munshi said at a press conference held at state guest house Shugandha in the capital, Dhaka, on Saturday.
On behalf of Bangladesh, Tipu Munshi will sign the PTA while economic affairs minister of Bhutan Lyonpo Loknath Sharma has already signed the agreement and handed over the deal document to the Bangladesh envoy to Bhutan.
According to commerce ministry officials, 34 Bhutanese products would get duty-free market access to Bangladesh while 100 Bangladeshi products including readymade garment would get the same facility in Bhutan.
The commerce ministry organises a signing ceremony at the state guest house on Sunday and Bangladesh’s prime minister Sheikh Hasina and Bhutanese prime minister Lotay Tshering are scheduled to attend the programme virtually, Tipu Munshi said.
Sheikh Hasina is also scheduled to cut a cake on the occasion marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between the two countries, he said.
The commerce minister said that Bangladesh would have to go for any PTA or FTA with a proper analysis as the bilateral agreement might put negative impact on the country’s revenue collection.
Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Bhutan increased nearly five times in last one decade to $57.46 million in the financial year 2018-19 from $12.77 million in the FY 2008-09.
Tipu Munshi hoped that Bangladesh would be benefited from the agreement as the bilateral trade was largely in favour of Bhutan.
He said that export of Bangladesh’s RMG and other products would increase to Bhutan due to the agreement.
Tipu Munshi also said that Bangladesh was working with 11 more countries to sign PTA or FTA as the country would lose its preferential market access in the globe once it graduates from least developed country to a developing one in 2024.
Commerce secretary Zafar Uddin said in the short-term Bangladesh would lose some revenues due to the PTA with Bhutun but in mid- and long-term the country’s revenue would increase because of the deal.
‘If we consider all the variables, the PTA would increase our export. Increased exports would generate employment and employment would increase consumption. The import duty that the country would lose would be gained through consumption tax,’ Zafar said.
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