Business Standard - 14 October 2021
India ready for negotiations of comprehensive economic pact with Bangladesh, says Envoy
Underlining the fast-growing bilateral trade relationship, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami has said that the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries is a "win-win" situation and India is ready for negotiations as early as January 2022.
Doraiswami made these remarks during an interview with the Dhaka Tribune.
Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia and India is the second biggest trade partner of Bangladesh, according to the External Affairs Ministry. Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh has grown steadily over the last decade and the exports of Bangladesh have tripled over the last decade to cross USD 1 billion in 2018-19.
Answering a question on study for a bilateral free trade agreement, the High Commissioner said, "Well, the original timeline for completion of the joint study — for what we call a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or CEPA, which is an FTA plus arrangement — was September this year."
Doraiswami expressed confidence that the CEPA with Bangladesh is among the few Free trade Agreements (FTAs) that India is prioritizing.
"It will be among a handful of similar arrangements that we will pursue, provided we are able to start the discussions with our counterparts in Bangladesh soon," he said.
The Indian High Commissioner noted that there is every economic reason for India to prioritize this CEPA.
"This is a fast-growing trade relationship. The trendline is positive and clearly depicts that both India and Bangladesh have been each other’s major markets."
"And there is recognition of the fact, in both countries, that better connectivity, growing prosperity and a less politicized approach to trade and investment creates enormous head-room for growth in trade, investment flows and integrated production chains," he added.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bangladesh visit in March this year, the two sides had agreed to enhance trade.
In the joint statement, both sides had underscored the need for the removal of non-tariff barriers. Both PM Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina stressed the need for predictability of trade policies, regulations and procedures.