Wednesday, Oct 29, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
According to an official release, during the first round of talks on the FTA from October 20 to 22, India made a detailed presentation on the success of the FTA with Sri Lanka and the prospects for a similar agreement between Bangladesh and India. Both countries reiterated their commitment to conclude the FTA at the earliest, reflecting the current global sentiment on regional trade arrangement.
They also initiated talks on issues relating to modalities, timeframe, negative lists, phase-out periods to zero duty and rules of origin.
The official delegations to these talks were led by Elias Ahmed of the Bangladesh Commerce Ministry and S. Ramasundaram, Joint Secretary in the Indian Commerce Ministry. The two sides reached an agreement on a revised draft for the bilateral trade agreement signed in 1980.
"The agreement is likely to be signed in the near future after the approval of the respective Governments is obtained," the release said. The new agreement will reflect the "asymmetric nature" of their economies and trade which would also form the basis for the proposed bilateral FTA.
Both sides discussed in detail their respective lists of non-trade barriers that were exchanged in mid-August this year. The recent issue of mandatory certification by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for certain Bangladeshi products of export, notably cement, was discussed.
India proposed that imported clinker, the major raw material for cement, could be certified by the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution instead of by the BIS. This would considerably reduce the licensing period for Bangladesh cement. India would also consider the request for a similar approach for a few more products.
As a long-term solution, both countries agreed to start negotiations immediately for mutually recognising each other's standards.
Bangladesh agreed to remove the ban on land route for a number of Indian exports, notably cotton, and other types of yarn once the problems related to informal trade were resolved.
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