Dhaka presses for removing tariff, non-tariff barriers

Delhi dwells on port hurdles at Indo-BD trade talks

| Updated: October 25, 2017 05:38:04

Bangladesh and India flags are seen cross-pinned symbolising friendship between the two nations. Photo: Internet Bangladesh and India flags are seen cross-pinned symbolising friendship between the two nations. Photo: Internet

Removing trade disputes and irregularities for improving the trading environment between the two neighbouring countries figured high as a joint working group on Bangladesh-India trade began talks in Dhaka Wednesday.


Sources said the Indian side mainly focused on port-related restrictions in Bangladesh and high import duties on different items on the first day of the two-day meeting.


Bangladesh brought the issues of lack of infrastructure at land customs stations, pending issues of common standard certification of goods and the signing of mutual agreement between the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh and the State Trading Corporation of India.


They said the setting up of six more border haats, laboratory at LCS by the Indian side and removal of land-port congestion also came up in the first day's discussion.


Additional Secretary of WTO Cell Shafiqul Islam is leading a 13-member host side while Joint Secretary of the Department of Trade of India Bhupender S Bhalla a 12-member delegation at the annual consultation.


The meeting observed that the trade imbalance continued to rise with Indian exports to Bangladesh increasing 10 times and Bangladesh exports to India six times.


Bangladesh imported goods worth US$ 6.13 billion from India during the fiscal year 2016-17 while its exports fetched a meagre $672.4 million from the other side of the trade divide.


Bangladesh and India sit regularly at secretary and other sector levels, including trade, aiming to remove trade barriers like tariff and non-tariff barriers for ensuring fair and uninterrupted trade between the two countries.


Officials said apart from regular issues, Bangladesh continued raising its demand for removing anti-dumping duties on different products including jute that has been pending since 2012 in the 11th meeting.


"Bangladesh will continue to press the demand for removal of anti-dumping duty until an amicable solution comes," said one official who attended the meeting Wednesday.


Officials said the two sides reviewed the progress on the decisions taken during the 10th JWG meeting on trade and found some developments in the common certification, border haat and infrastructure development.


Although both sides had earlier agreed on six more border haats during the secretary- level meeting last year, the officials said the JWG, however, found no progress in selecting the sites for those frontier bazaars owing to floods. At present four border haats are in operation.


Asked about the developments on the decision, Additional Secretary M Shafiqul Islam told the FE the Indian sides had already accepted 21 Bangladeshi products out of 27 recognised by BSTI (Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution) for export and issued notification in this connection.


Besides, he said, major concerns relating to minimum import pricing have also improved due to this kind of regular meeting.


During the JWG meeting, sources said, Bangladesh continued to press the demand for accepting BSTI certification on the rest six products.

It is learnt that the Bangladesh side also handed over the letter earlier written by the Bangladesh Bank requesting refund of five-lac Indian rupees which were stuck legally for the Indian government's decision to ban 500 and 1000-rupee notes last year.


These Indian rupees were used in trade at border haats.


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