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Malaysia agrees to examine Bangladesh’s plea for reducing trade gap

Bangladesh Journal

Malaysia agrees to examine Bangladesh’s plea for reducing trade gap

Dhaka, June 8 2005: Malaysia has agreed to examine Bangladesh’s cause of reducing trade imbalance heavily tilted towards Kuala Lumpur as the first day of official level talks of the two-day Joint Commission meeting concluded here yesterday.

"Foreign Ministers of the two country will sign an agreed minutes of cooperation after the ministerial meeting on Tuesday," Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Ismail Zabihullah, who led Bangladesh in the official-level talks, told the news agency at the Sonargaon Hotel lobby following the meeting.

He said the issue of bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) featured in the talks, as a few identified gray areas would require further discussion. Bangladesh also requested to accelerate manpower recruitment from the country under the ambit of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries in 2003.

Bangladesh sought duty-free access to Malaysia of its 19 category of products including readymade garments, home textiles, terry towel, ceramic products, frozen foods, jute and leather products, and potato.

These products have some demands in Malaysia and some of them were being exported to the country, said the ERD secretary, adding that the duty-free access would help Bangladesh to reduce the trade deficit.

Bangladesh suffered a trade deficit of US$ 245 million in 2003-04 with its imports totalling US$ 254 million against exports of US$ 8.66 million.

Ismail Zabihullah said Bangladesh requested Malaysia for similar trade preferences Kuala Lumpur shares with its ASEAN partners, considering the excellent relations between the two brotherly countries. Malaysia was also requested to consider Bangladesh’s cause in line with the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP), he added.

Other areas of cooperation discussed in the meeting included technical cooperation in education, agriculture (post-harvest handling and processing), ’halal’ meat processing and capacity building to promote tourism.

Bangladesh also proposed Malaysia to relocate their labour-intensive production facilities in Bangladesh as well as their investment here to tap the advantage of investment climate in the country.