The Financial Express Bangladesh | 4 January 2022
Dhaka to focus on removal of non-tariff barriers, at India-Bangladesh talks
by SYFUL ISLAM
Commerce secretaries of Bangladesh and India will sit together in mid-February to discuss some pending bilateral trade issues where Dhaka will give special focus on removal of non-tariff barriers, officials said.
The non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are considered as main reasons behind Bangladesh’s failure to enhance export to the neighbouring country despite enjoying duty-free market access there, they added.
The Ministry of Commerce has already asked the ministries and departments concerned to let it know about the issues and matters which can be added in the agenda of the upcoming commerce secretary level meeting.
Sources said the Bangladesh Land Port Authority (BLPA) had been asked to provide specific data and information on the non-tariff and para-tariff barriers that hinder the export to India.
"We asked the BLPA for concrete data and information which can prove that NTBs are really hindering export," said a trade official in Dhaka.
"We will then place these specific examples before the Indian side seeking permanent solution," the official added.
Removal of anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute goods, hydrogen peroxide and fishing net, the new customs rules of India, access of Bangladeshi transports to Indian territories to reach Bhutan and Nepal, harmonisation of standards and mutual recognition of standards, will be on the agenda, officials said.
Another senior trade official said Bangladesh and India were now jointly studying the pros and cons of signing a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.
Once the deal is signed, many non-tariff and para-tariff barriers may go, but striking the pact may take several years, said the official. "Before that, we have to continuously press for removal of the barriers to enhance our export."
Contacted, Senior Secretary of the commerce ministry Tapan Kanti Ghosh on Monday told the FE that the meeting agenda was yet to be prepared.
A meeting will be held on preparation of the agenda after the date of the secretary-level meeting is confirmed, he added.
Commerce secretaries of Bangladesh and India last met in March last year where Dhaka pressed for lifting of anti-dumping duty and non-application of Indian new customs rules on Bangladeshi exportables.
In fiscal year 2019-20, Bangladesh exported goods worth $1.09 billion to India while imported goods worth $5.77 billion.
Bangladesh mainly exports apparel, jute and jute goods, cotton and cotton products, plastics, and leather and leather products to India.
On the other hand, major import items include cotton, cereals, electricity and fuel, vehicle parts, and machinery and mechanical appliances.