The New Indian Express | 5 March 2022
Joint study on India-Bangladesh trade pact to be finalised soon: commerce ministry
NEW DELHI: India and Bangladesh will soon finalise a joint study on the prospects of entering into a bilateral free trade agreement, which aims at further strengthening economic ties between the countries, the commerce ministry said on Saturday.
The issue was discussed during a meeting between Commerce Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and Bangladesh’s Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Tapan Kanti Ghosh on March 4.
Both sides held extensive discussions on a variety of issues including the development of railway infrastructure, port infrastructure, joint study on Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), Border Haats, regional connectivity through multi-modal transportation, harmonisation of standards, mutual recognition agreement.
"CEPA study to be finalized at the earliest," the ministry said.
CEPA is a kind of comprehensive free trade pact under which two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them.
They also liberalise norms to facilitate trade in services and boost investments.
Bangladesh is the sixth largest trade partner of India.
To facilitate bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh, several steps are underway including approval of a Detailed Project Proposal for developing container handling facility at Sirajganj Bazar.
Other steps include construction of a new 900-meter siding line at Benapole for running freight trains between India-Bangladesh; completion of construction of a loading and unloading platform at Darshana for allowing import of all commodities from India by rail, it said.
Besides, there was a consensus over the use of returning empty railway wagons/containers by Bangladesh as this would reduce overall logistics cost of India’s exports to Bangladesh.
Closed Border Haats due to COVID restriction would be opened soon and 24x7 operationalization of Petrapole-Benapole Integrated Check Post (ICP) would be implemented soon.
The bilateral trade between the countries stood at USD 10.8 billion in 2020-21, as against USD 9.5 billion in 2019-20.
Major exports from India to Bangladesh include cotton, cereals, fuel, vehicle parts and machinery and mechanical appliances.