Dhaka urges Delhi to lift antidumping duty on jute

Arun Jaitley at business talks focuses on exacting trade dividend from Indo-BD proximity, power export

| Updated: October 24, 2017 23:34:17

Finance Minister A M A Muhith receives his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley on the latter's arrival in Dhaka on a three-day visit on Tuesday. 	— Collected Finance Minister A M A Muhith receives his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley on the latter's arrival in Dhaka on a three-day visit on Tuesday. — Collected

At a business talk with the Indian finance minister, Dhaka urged Delhi Tuesday to lift the antidumping duty imposed on export of Bangladeshi jute and jute-made products, saying that the measure was contributing to further widening of bilateral trade imbalance.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed made the call to the visiting Indian Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, during the bilateral business meeting held at a hotel in the city.

"I really hope that Indian government will review the matter," Mr Tofail said while reflecting on the trade scenario between the two next-door neighbours.

The commerce minister's request came at a time when Bangladesh's jute export to India is on a downturn due to the aforementioned antidumping duty imposed on the natural fibre-based products coming from Bangladesh.

India slapped the antidumping duty -- ranging between $19 and $352 a tonne -- on January 5 of this year.

Jute is the third-largest export-earning sector of Bangladesh, after garments and leather, and India is one of the biggest markets for these goods.

India accounted for 17 per cent of the total jute goods exported abroad in fiscal year 2015-16, according to data compiled by the Department of Jute (DoJ).

Jute and jute goods comprise 37 per cent of the total amount of exports that was shipped to India back in 2015-16.

"India-Bangladesh trade balance is already heavily tilted towards India. So, India should consider the issue of jute antidumping duty to ensure better access of Bangladeshi products to the Indian market," Mr Tofail said.

While hailing India's recent move to grant Bangladeshi items duty-free access, the commerce minister also noted that countervailing duties in many cases neutralise those duty-free benefits.

Speaking on the occasion, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley identified the two countries' geographic proximity and the resulting easier access as major plus points for boosting bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.

"Currently, a lot of research and innovation is taking place in India in the areas of pharmaceuticals, healthcare, Information Technology and agriculture. Bangladesh and India can share their knowledge in such areas which can mutually benefit both countries," Mr Jaitley said.

"At the same time, India is currently carrying out a massive skill-development programme for enhancing skills of its population. This is another area where the two countries can share their knowledge and experience."

Noting that India has one of world's largest railway and highway networks, the Indian Finance Minister also observed that the two countries can also cooperate in the area of communications-network infrastructure and transportation.

Also highlighting that India has recently become a power-surplus country, Mr Jaitley said there are ample scopes for greater power trade between the two countries.

President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Md. Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin in his speech said although India has provided Bangladesh duty-free market access, there are a few hiccups in the provision which need to be addressed.

Reflecting on the recent influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh from Myanmar, the FBCCI President also asked India to take positive steps for safe repatriation of the Rohingya.

President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Pankaj Patel in his speech said the recent restoration of various transport routes between the two countries offer greater trade opportunities.

Later, a panel discussion also took place at the same venue focusing on the current status of India- Bangladesh economic relations as well as future opportunities.

Immediate-past President of the FBCCI Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Md. Siddiqur Rahman, President of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Nihad Kabir as well as various senior representatives of Indian business chambers took part in the panel discussion.

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