China View | 28 October 2004
Bangladesh to sign free trade agreement with Morocco
DHAKA, Oct. 28 (Xinhuanet) — Bangladesh is set to sign its first bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Morocco despite reservations by its own research wing.
The trade minister of Morocco would visit Bangladesh in the first week of December to finalize the FTA with the country, The Financial Express reported Thursday.
The bilateral FTA with Morocco, however, got a tepid response from the Tariff Commission, the research and analysis wing of the Commerce Ministry of Bangladesh, which feels that the deal would hardly serve any purpose for the country.
Examining the trade records between the two countries and other future possibilities, the commission has expressed the opinion that there is no apparent need for such a deal.
According to the commission, the two-way trade between the two countries did not even surpass two million US dollars last fiscal. In 2002-2003 Bangladesh exported goods worth 1.1 million to Morocco, and the figure rose to 1.68 million dollars in 2003-2004 fiscal.
Ministry sources said that it was Morocco which first proposed to sign the bilateral FTA. Since Bangladesh enjoys a slight advantage over the North African country, the ministry feels that there is no harm in signing the deal.
Bangladesh earlier initiated bilateral FTA talks with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but the talks were suspended after two rounds.
The ministry, meanwhile, shaped up a preferential trade agreement with Egypt and a new trade deal with Iran.
Under the preferential deal, a number of Bangladeshi goods will be allowed to enter the Egyptian market, the biggest in North Africa and the Arab world, while Egypt will also enjoy similar facilities. At present, their two-way trade hovers around 10 million dollars annually.
Bangladesh would sign a new trade deal with Iran by the end of this year as Iran insisted on suspending the earlier agreement in favor of a new one.
The earlier agreement was signed during Shah’s regime and much of its provisions have become obsolete.