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Japan disagrees to sign EPA with Bangladesh

The New Nation | 19 April 2009

Japan disagrees to sign EPA with Bangladesh

Syful Islam

Despite repeated efforts from Bangladesh government, Japan is yet to agree to sign Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), an accord to strengthen bilateral economic ties.

Japan has so far signed EPA with 11 countries and some 9 countries are in the queue. In Bangladesh’s case no positive indication was seen.

Bangladesh embassy in Japan is trying vigorously to sign the deal with the rich nation. In the recent past the embassy people have met several times with Japanese authorities but could not reap benefit. The Ministry of Commerce recently has inquired and asked the embassy to move forward in this regard.

The basic concepts of the EPA is to strengthen relationship among certain countries, covering liberalisation of trade and investment, elimination and harmonisation of regulations and competition of policy, promotion of human exchange.

EPA can also help in promoting mutually beneficial economic ties between the two countries and contribution to realising multi-layered cooperation for capacity building in various ways, says a communiqué between Ministry of Commerce and Bangladesh embassy in Japan.

Before signing EPA Japan considers first whether the intending country would enable an international environment beneficial to their interest facilitating the efforts towards community building and stability and prosperity in East Asia.

"Country would also gauge the possible return contributing to strengthen their economic power and other supports to tackle their political and diplomatic challenges."

"Reinforcement of Japan’s position at multilateral negotiations, including the WTO talks, through partnership and cooperation with the concerned countries/regions would also be looked in."

"Economic interest emphasises towards whether EPA would bring substantial expand and facilitate exports of industrial, agricultural, forestry an fishery products, trade in services, and investment."

"Business community interest is also come in the consideration centre of the agreement to offer them a better conduit through the liberalization or adjustment of policies and rules harmonising the economic system like intellectual property rights."

"EPA also speaks on stable import of resources, safe and reliable food, and to diversification of its suppliers. The Japan government also likes to see whether EPA will promote its economic and social structural reforms making there economic activities more vibrant."

"EPA keeps provision also to bring natural persons, professional or technical workers to stimulate their economy and promoting the society to be more internationalised."

The communiqué suggested to send a high powered business delegation to Japan to motivate their counterpart as the business community of Japan plays the pivotal role signing such agreement with any country.

It also suggested meeting between the Japan-Bangladesh Joint Committee for Commercial and Economic Cooperation (JBCCEC) and FBCCI that is not taking place since 2005.

The bilateral trade between the two countries always remains in favour of the world’s second largest economy. Japan is a zero tolerance country regarding its import from anywhere of the country. Very few products of Bangladesh’s narrow basket are allowed to Japan.

Japan so far signed EPA with Singapore, Mexico, Malaysia, Chile, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, ASEAN, Switzerland and Vietnam. Countries in queue are Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Korea, India and Australia.

 source: New Nation