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`Ease curbs to promote trade with Bangladesh'

By Haroon Habib

DHAKA, JUNE 27. The Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Veena Sikri, has underscored the need for resolving para-tariff and non-tariff barriers with a view to promoting bilateral trade between India, Bangladesh.

She said the "so-called" para-tariff or non-tariff barriers (on both sides) were often based on "nothing but misperceptions, bureaucratic delays and inept handling of problems as and when they arise." "It is crucially important that these issues be resolved quickly and amicably, through regular and frequent dialogue between our respective Commerce Ministries at all levels." She was speaking at the inauguration of a two-day "buyer-seller meet" of Bangladesh and Indian businesspeople on Saturday.

The meet was organised by the National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB). A 21-member delegation from the Federation of Associations of Cottage and Small Industries (FACSI), West Bengal, participated. It was organised to identify potential sectors for setting up joint venture industries especially small and cottage industries.

The Indian entrepreneurs promoted their electronic items, jute goods, machinery, plastic goods, textile and chemical items in the market. Ms. Sikri said there was a direct relationship between the price hike of essential commodities and the restrictions imposed on import of these items through the frontier land customs stations in Bangladesh. "If these restrictions are lifted, the resulting imports from India would provide a win-win situation for both Bangladesh and India," she said adding that "such restrictions also adversely affect small and medium entrepreneurs."

She, however, said that India offered preferential tariff over 2,000 items of export from Bangladesh, either bilaterally or under the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) or the Bangkok Agreement. "We offer duty-free imports from Bangladesh on 79 items. Almost, 75 per cent of items from Bangladesh are entitled to these preferential or duty free tariffs."

The Advisor to Bangladesh's Ministry of Commerce, Barkat Ullah Bulu, said the meet would achieve their desired goal in bringing economic benefits for both the countries. He stressed the need for further cooperation between private sector businesses for mutual benefits. The Bangladesh Government was examining the potentials of FTA and hoped that it would be signed soon.

Ms. Sikri suggested that Bangladeshi exporters reduce trade imbalance by making quality products with standard and competitive prices. She cited the India-Sri Lanka FTA and said that a similar FTA would surely help add new items of Bangladesh's export to India.

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