Burma News International
Burma-Bangladesh Trade Agreement Expires
By Siddique Islam
Dhaka: With no transactions in the past two years, the term of the Account Trade Arrangement (ATA) between Burma and Bangladesh has expired without any initiative for renewal.
A report submitted to the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) by the state-owned Sonali Bank has called for taking the final decision on the bilateral trade agreement.
"There had been no trade between the two countries under ATA in the last two years due to the lack of publicity by the concerned authorities," a senior official of the Bank told the Mizzima correspondent.
ATA, also known as the bilateral payment arrangement, is a trade facilitating mechanism that allows the participating countries to conduct normal trade activities without large amounts of hard currencies.
The official said both governments should take necessary measures to activate the trade arrangement for strengthening bilateral trade relations. Burma and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on March 19, 2003, to introduce ATA to revamp trade relation between the two countries.
"We are now reviewing the whole matter before taking a final decision on ATA renewal," a senior MoC official said, adding that Rangoon would have to take the initiative for renewal of the trade arrangement.
Two commercial banks, Sonali Bank of Bangladesh and Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB) of Burma, were selected to operate trade transactions between the two countries.
According to the agreement, the selected banks can establish letters of credit worth up to 10 million dollars and settle the account between themselves at the end of a six-month period, a process in which the debtor pays the creditor only the difference.
The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries has been on the wane for years due to lack of proper initiatives. The balance of trade, according to officials, has remained tilted in favor of Burma over the past eight years.
Bangladesh exported goods and commodities of only 3.52 million dollars to Burma in 2003-2004 while the worth of its import during the period stood at 26.55 million dollars.