The Financial Express

Bangladesh to seek relaxed China rules for increasing exports

| Updated: November 23, 2020 10:36:42

File photo used for representation — Collected File photo used for representation — Collected

Bangladesh is set to put forward some proposals including seeking relaxation of Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) rules of origin during the ensuing Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) meeting, officials said.

The Bangladesh side will also request Chinese entrepreneurs to set up joint venture industries in Bangladesh, they added.

Other proposals to be placed before the meeting include setting up of a design institute in the leather sector and a fashion design institute in the readymade garment (RMG) sector etc., they mentioned.

The commerce ministry has recently submitted some proposals to the foreign ministry for placing them at the upcoming FOC meeting between Bangladesh and China.

"Bangladesh has been suffering from a continuous trade imbalance over the years. In order to trim down the existing trade imbalance between the two countries, we have given some talking points to the ministry concerned for placing the proposals at the next FOC meeting," a high official of the commerce ministry said.

The commerce ministry suggested requesting China to relax the APTA Rules of Origin and Rules of Origin of Zero Tariff Treatment for Bangladesh in the form of 25 per cent value addition (ad valorem percentage) instead of 40 per cent in processed products, according to the talking points.

It has also made request to persuade the Chinese investors to set up joint venture industries in the fields of country's leather goods including shoes, IT, light engineering, agro-processing foods, shipbuilding, high value added textile products.

The ministry suggested that trade delegations need to visit China and meet their counterparts for assessing the demand, price and quality of products having export potential.

China granted duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access to 8,549 Bangladeshi products (97 per cent), which may help boost exports while lowering the ballooning bilateral trade imbalance, officials say.

The trade benefit was given by China to Bangladesh as a least developed country (LDC) under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) provisions.

China offered duty-free treatment to the LDCs in July 2010 and Bangladesh used to enjoy the benefit for 60 per cent of its tariff lines.

The benefit for Bangladesh came into effect from July 01, 2020 and would continue until the country graduates to a developing country status, slated for 2024.

Simultaneously, Bangladesh will continue enjoying preferential market access to China under the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement or APTA, which covers 3,700 HS Codes.

Under the facility, Bangladeshi goods will have to ensure value addition of 40 per cent while under the APTA the requirement is 35 per cent.

To avail the enhanced benefit, Bangladesh signed a letter of exchange in 2019 and sent it to China for its response. After a long wait, the Chinese finance ministry on June 16 agreed to grant the facility to Bangladesh.

China is the largest trade partner for Bangladesh with annual bilateral commerce totalling over $12.13 billion.

In the fiscal year 2019-20, Bangladesh imported goods worth over US$11.53 billion from China and exported goods over US$ 600 million.

Country's trade gap with China stood at nearly US$ 11 billion in the last fiscal year (FY20), according to the statistics of the ministry.

The Bangladesh-China FOC is likely to be held in Dhaka soon.

The FOC will review various global, regional and sub-regional issues of mutual interests. Issues of bilateral cooperation will also be discussed.

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