Bangladesh: B’desh Eyes FTA With China
By JASIM UDDIN KHAN / The Daily Star / ANN
DHAKA, BANGLADESH: Bangladesh is eying a free trade agreement (FTA) with its biggest trading partner China.
As the country has achieved a little from many multilateral and regional deals, the government plans to improve its two-way trade with major trading partners, sources said.
As part of the plan the government initially eyes an FTA with China. Bangladesh’s other key trading partners are India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Burma.
"Bangladesh has to consider bilateral free trade agreements with its trading partners as regional agreements such as Safta (South Asian Free Trade Agreement) fail to yield expected results," said Feroz Ahmed, commerce secretary.
Many countries are now going for bilateral free trade deals, although they have many regional and multilateral trading agreements in place, he added.
"The implementation process of bilateral free trade agreements is very simple and results of such agreements are very effective," the secretary added.
Some countries such as India and Sri Lanka have long been seeking bilateral agreements with Bangladesh, Ahmed said adding that the country should review their proposals.
The government will seek opinions from different trade bodies and trade experts before any initiative of bilateral FTA.
At a meeting held at commerce ministry early this month private sector people advised the government to explore the opportunities of bilateral free trade deals. The private sector people also called for initiating talks with India followed by Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Referring to the fact that Indian government gives huge incentives to its producers to make them competitive, the trade experts at the meeting recommended incentives for Bangladeshi industries.
Dr Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dr Ananya Raihan, executive director of D-net, Selima Chowdhury Zahir, research fellow of BIDS and Dr Selim Raihan, associate professor of Dhaka University, were present at the meeting representing the private sector.
Bangladesh’s import from China rose to US$2.30 billion in 2006-07 fiscal year, while import from India recorded $2.10 billion in the same period.
Textile fabrics, capital machinery and dyeing chemicals are some of the major import items from China while iron products, vehicles and spare parts, and mineral products are key import goods from India.
Bangladesh exported only $93 million goods to China in 2006-07 while it exported $289.41 million products to India in the same period.