Dhaka Tribune | 6 June 2022
RTA gets nod for stronger regional trade ties
A uniformed guideline for signing all types of bilateral deals has got the nod from the Cabinet as Bangladesh is set for regional economic integration to substitute loss of preferential market access.
Officials say the regional trade agreement (RTA) policy, approved last week, will provide guidance in negotiating, signing, and implementing treaties aimed at encouraging free movement of goods and services, among other economic interactions.
The policy framework is meant for contributing to the national economy, investment, and public welfare through deeper trade and economic integration.
Objectives of the RTA policy also include guiding identification and prioritization of potential partners for RTAs, determination of RTA coverage for negotiation, institutional arrangement and authority, strategy for negotiation, and internal procedures for concluding deals.
Officials said that with Bangladesh now coming close to graduation from the world’s poor-country club, the government is firm on signing some free-trade deals with potential trade partners to offset the impacts of losing trade preferences after graduation.
Under the RTA policy, the next-door neighbours and blocs having trade potential, good connectivity, bilateral cooperation and strategic partnership will get priority in Bangladesh’s endeavor for free-trade deals.
The policy also puts on priority list the countries which can be gateway for market access to other nations and countries to which Bangladesh may lose preferential trading facility shortly.
The RTAs should be beyond conventional trade pacts, covering all the trade aspects like trade in goods and services and investment, intellectual property and labour issues, the policy reads.
The policy says Bangladesh needs to brace itself for navigating all obstacles on its way to access global and regional markets for a smooth and sustainable LDC (least- developed country) graduation into the next trajectory of growth.
Opinions are rife that, alongside trying to retain existing preferential market access after graduation, conclusion of RTAs with prospective trading partners can be an instrument to augment the trade and investment momentum of the country.