Financial Express - 29 August 2020
Signing of PTAs: Dhaka plans to open talks with dozen countries
By Rezaul Karim
The government plans to start negotiations with a dozen countries including US and Canada for signing preferential trade agreements to help boost the country’s export earnings, officials said.
Besides, necessary studies are on with aims to enter into talks for signing PTAs with Vietnam, Morocco and Japan.
On the other hand, studies will also be initiated after necessary approval by the commerce secretary for inking FTAs with Sierra Leone, Senegal and Nigeria, they added.
After conducting the study, the authorities concerned will start working on negotiations.
"We are now trying to start talks with the USA, Canada and some Eurasian countries aiming to sign PTAs," a senior official of the commerce ministry said.
Currently, he said, they have been giving priority to negotiate on signing PTAs with a dozen countries.
"FTA deal is very difficult," he added. Some issues including revenue losses have been involved with FTAs as all products of both the countries under FTAs enjoy duty-free facility, he also mentioned.
Many developed countries will not provide duty-free facility to Bangladesh after its graduation from LDC status in 2024, he also said.
Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) has completed a study on USA, Canada and some Eurasian countries for examining export potentiality.
The study has already been sent to the commerce ministry to take next course of action in this regard.
A meeting has been held with the commerce ministry additional secretary Sharifa Khan in the chair.
The study on signing of PTA/FTA with some countries including Eurasian and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries has showed negative results, a BTTC official said.
A products list has been finalised on signing PTA with Indonesia. That is now in final stage.
The commerce ministry has recently given Malaysia a reminder through the ministry of foreign affairs for starting formal negotiations on signing a free trade area (FTA) agreement as soon as possible, he added.
It is supposed to sign a PTA with Bangladesh and Bhutan by August 30, 2020. It will be the first agreement between the two countries.
Under the deal, some 100 Bangladeshi products will enjoy duty-free access to the Bhutanese market. On the other hand, some 34 Bhutanese items will also enjoy duty-free access to the Bangladesh market.