Monday February 6, 2006
Bimstec Free Trade Pact Set to Come Into Force in July
SANGSAD BHABAN, Bangladesh, Feb. 6 Asia Pulse - The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) free trade agreement is expected to come into force from July 1 this year, the Bangladesh Parliament was told Sunday.
Discussion among the member states in this regard was in the final phase, Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan said, replying to Golam Habib Dulal of the Jatiya Party.
He said there was a possibility of future cooperation between SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and BIMSTEC.
The BIMSTEC alliance was acting like a bridge between South Asia and South East Asia, he said.
"We expect that through BIMSTEC, Bangladesh’s ’Look East Policy’ will be strengthened further," the minister said.
Replying to Mohammad Ali Jinnah (BNP), he said that the fourth round of negotiations with China under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) would be held very soon.
As the member of Least Developed Countries, Bangladesh is trying its level best to ensure tax-free access for Bangladeshi products solely into the Chinese market, he said.
Khan said that so far, a total of 245 Bangladeshi products have got either free access or access at little tax.
Replying to a supplementary question, he said that if the proposed Asian Highway does not go through Bangladesh, a highway would be constructed between Bangladesh and Myanmar bilaterally.