BD-India bilateral trade up by 20pc

Financial Express, Bangladesh

BD-India bilateral trade up by 20pc

By Nizam Ahmed

22 December 2012

Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India rose nearly 20 per cent to more than US$ 4.50 billion in the fiscal year (FY) 2011-12 following reduction of sensitive lists by the relevant authorities in both the countries in late 2011.

During the period exports from India to Bangladesh rose more than 17 per cent to nearly $ 4.0 billion while exports from Bangladesh to India rose some 32 per cent to nearly $ 600 million, according to updated data at the ministry of commerce (MoC).

The bilateral trade between the two countries crossed $ 2.0 billion in the first five months of the current FY.

The both-way trade is expected to cross $ 5.0 billion-mark at the end of the ongoing fiscal year as exports from Bangladesh to India are growing gradually, traders said.

The bilateral trade between the two countries was worth around $ 3.0 billion in the FY 2009-2010, said the updated MoC data.

The official trade has been rising after the two countries reduced respective sensitive lists in 2011.

India reduced its sensitive list for the least developed countries (LDCs) including Bangladesh under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement, from 480 items to 25 items only.

In response, for the sake of improved regional trade, Bangladesh also reduced its SAFTA sensitive list for non-LDCs including India from 1,241 items to 993 items.

The items removed from the sensitive lists are no more subject to customs duty.

Meanwhile both the governments have taken steps to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers to bilateral trade. But traders in Bangladesh complain that their exports to India are still facing several non-tariff and para-tariff barriers.

Bangladesh traders have also called on Indian authorities through respective businesses and diplomatic channels to remove the remaining barriers.

In the sensitive list of India some 48 garment products were also included for which Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh made special announcement during his Bangladesh visit in September 2011.

Since then Bangladesh exports to India started increasing gradually despite of existence of steep para-tariff and non-tariff barriers.

"Had there been no para-tariff and non-tariff barriers Bangladesh could have exported much more products especially in the northeast states of India," Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Vice President Nasir Uddin Chowdhury told the FE.

Without removing the barriers the objective of reducing sensitive list by India for giving preference to LDCs will not be fulfilled, the BGMEA VP said.

Besides barriers, insincerity of a section of Indian importers also discourages garment exports from Bangladesh.

Bangladeshi exporters alleged recently that more than 20 RMG exporters from Bangladesh did not get full payment worth $ 500,000 in recent months.

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