Bangladesh signs APTA: Plan to reduce trade gap with neighbours

Bangladesh signs APTA: Plan to reduce trade gap with neighbours

By Staff Reporter

Sun, 6 Nov 2005

Bangladesh and four other countries signed Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) in China despite Bangladesh’s huge trade gap with neighbouring India.

Commerce Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury signed the agreement on November 2 on behalf of Bangladesh.

Other member countries, which signed the agreement, are India, China, South Korea and Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has been elected vice president of the newly formed APTA, while China has been made its president.

The Commerce Minister said trade gap would be reduced with India after the launching of SAFTA (South Asian Financial Trade Agreement), which is likely to be effective from January 2006.

Bangladesh’s export to India amounted to US$89 million in 2003-2004 FY, and US$144 million in 2004-2005.

He was addressing a press conference at his office yesterday on the achievement of APTA.

China and South Korea have given duty free access to 83 and 139 Bangladeshi products respectively, he said.

In all, China has given between 5 and 100 per cent duty free access to 245 Bangladeshi items, while South Korea has given a total of 291 Bangladeshi items between 20 and 100 per cent duty free access, the Commerce Minister added.

Bangladeshi items such as fish, soap, leather, jute products, knitwear, woven garments, parts of camera, leather goods and automobile parts will get duty free access to China and India, Altaf said.

Sri Lanka has given Bangladesh a total of 48 items a reduced duty free access between 10 and 35 per cent, while India has given only 25 Bangladeshi items 50 per cent duty free access. Bangladesh has given India a total of 86 items a lower rate between 10 and 20 per cent duty free access.

Replying to a question the Minister said, "We have discussed several issues including EPZ, air communication, FDI, double taxation, compensation of tariff loss."

Terming 21st century as a golden century for the Asians, the Minister said, economic ties and bilateral relationship would strengthen among the Asian countries through the APTA.

Macao, Iran, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Georgia, Fiji and Mongolia have expressed their interest to become members of the APTA, he said.

The Minister said China would send a high-powered business team to assess investment in Bangladesh on December 3. Red Bird Group of China has expressed their interest to invest about US$ 90 million in jute sector in Bangladesh, Altaf added.

The fourth-round ministerial meeting of APTA will be held in New Delhi.

Commerce Advisor Barkatullah Bulu and other high officials of the ministry attended the press briefing.

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source: The New Nation