Dhaka again rejects Delhi’s FTA proposal

Dhaka again rejects Delhi’s FTA proposal

Monday August 08 2005

Bangladesh has once again outright rejected an Indian proposal for signing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with her, urging the counterpart to sign the proposed South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) for boosting the regional trade and commerce.

Visiting foreign minister of India Natwar Singh repeatedly urged the government of Bangladesh to sign an FTA, for what he said further progress in trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

"We must proceed expeditiously to sign, not just a revised FTA for which there is agreement on both sides, but go a step further and try and conclude a Free Trade Agreement," said Indian foreign minister while addressing concluding part of the two day long Indo-Bangladesh Dhaka Dialogue on Trade, Investment and Connectivity at the local hotel on Sunday. Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Indian International Centre (IIC) jointly organized the dialogue on the occasion of the visit of the Indian foreign minister. Dialogue monitored by chairman of CPD Professor Rehman Sobhan.

Replying to the Natwar Singh’s plea for an FTA, Bangladesh Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan has said that FTA is not at all free in true sense and it is always negotiable.

Rather, he emphasized the need for signing the multilateral agreement of the proposed South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) for boosting the regional trade and commerce, as bilateral agreement is unable to reap the maximum benefits.

During his speech Morshed Khan also high lighted four areas that can outline broadly the scope of the interactions between the two countries and these are- political interactions and people to people contact, Economic Cooperation, other areas of cooperation and the SARRC process.

Terming Bangladesh as the most liberal investment regimes in South Asia and the largest SAARC trading partners of India, foreign minister Morshed Khan said, " We shall continue to encourage trade creating investment from India that may play its own important role in increasing trade between the two countries

The issue of illegal immigrants needs to be addressed and similarly, we must ensure that our territories are not allowed to be used for any activities inimical to each other’s interest, said Natwar singh, adding that both India and Bangladesh need to evolve positions and action plans to counter the common threats of terrorism and religious fundamentalism that confront the societies of these two countries.

And last, we must make a good faith endeavor to avoid any proactive words or deeds that would inevitable make our liberal relations and mutual dialogue needlessly more difficult, he further said.

Regarding the tri-nation gas pipeline he also said that issues such as the export of natural gas and establishment of a tri-nation gas pipeline.

"On our part , We have offered a 150 million US dollar line of Credit for infrastructure projects, especially railways" he also said.

Natwar further said as a bigger country and a country with a larger industrial base, they were ready to offer Bangladesh asymmetric benefits and early harvest.

Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, executive director, CPD presented the highlights of proceedings in concluding part Indo-Bangladesh Dhaka dialogue. Former Indian high commissioner to Bangladesh Ambassador Deb Mukharji, Law maker of Indian parliament Nilotpal Basu, Sachin Pilot and research fellow and Information Systems (RIS), New Delhi Dr Ram Upendra Das were also participate in the two days long dialogue .

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