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India awaiting data from Bangladesh to resume talks on trade pact

Financial Express | 23 August 2023

India awaiting data from Bangladesh to resume talks on trade pact

by Mukesh Jagota

India is awaiting certain data from Bangladesh that could come any time before both sides resume their discussions on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), a senior official said.

“We have a bilateral mechanism with Bangladesh. They told us (at the last meeting) they will share some data with us. And after the data is shared the talks shall formally resume,” the official said. The last meeting between both sides was held in the first week of August.

Talks on CEPA between the two countries began informally in 2018. Joint feasibility on the agreement has been carried out after the two countries agreed to explore the Free Trade Agreement. The study confirmed that a trade agreement between India and Bangladesh would provide a sound basis for substantial enhancement of trade and commercial partnership between the two.

At the summit level talks between the two countries in September last year the decision was taken to restart the discussions. Since then officials of both sides have met regularly to prepare the ground for negotiations to start.

The proposed CEPA with Bangladesh would cover trade in goods and services and investments.At present trade ties between the two are conducted under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA). The members of SAFTA are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Due to the politics of the region the SAFTA is dysfunctional.

Bangladesh is the sixth largest export market for India accounting for 2.59% of its total exports. Exports to Bangladesh in 2022-23 stood at $ 12.2 billion down from 4 16.1 billion in the previous year. Electric energy, cotton yarn and petroleum products are the biggest exports to Bangladesh.

India’s imports from Bangladesh stood at $2.02 billion in the last financial year. India’s imports from its eastern neighbour mostly comprises, textiles and apparel and fish.

 source: Financial Express