Bangladesh has urged India to remove para-tariff and non-tariff barriers to improve the trade balance between the two neighbouring countries.
Bangladesh commerce secretary Mahbub Ahmed has raised the issue with his Indian counterpart S R Rao and revenue secretary Sumit Bose during his meeting with them on Friday in New Delhi.
“They have assured me to look into the matter,” Ahmed told media persons in Kolkata on the sidelines of an interactive meeting with the members of Indian Chamber of Commerce on Saturday.
The latest available figures for 2011-12 show a trade balance in favour of India, of the magnitude of 3.2 billion dollars.
Earlier during the interaction, Bangladesh deputy high commissioner in Kolkata Abida Islam elaborating on the trade barriers, pointed out that though under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), India has granted Bangladesh duty-free access to all items except tobacco and liquor, there were existence of several type of duties.
“For example on RMG products, Countervailing Duty on the assessable value is 8 percent, Special Additional Duty is 4 percent, Secondary Education cess is 2percent and Higher Education Cess is 1 percent. Altogether it comes to around 15 percent. These barriers discourage the importers to import such goods from Bangladesh.”
She further pointed out that Bangladeshi exporters often face a serious problem because of the non-acceptance of test certificates issued by Bangladesh Laboratory for certain products like soap, Jamdani saree, RMG and food products.
“In the absence of testing facilities in the LCSs or in the locality, the samples are sent to far away laboratories and in the process considerable time is wasted in obtaining the reports,” she said, highlighting the need to adopt a system for mutual acceptance of such certificates by both countries.
Improvement in infrastructure facilities of the Land Custom Stations and construction of Integrated Check Post would further boost the trade and commerce between the two countries, she said.
Endorsing Abida Islam’s view, commerce secretary said there was a huge investment potential in Bangladesh. “If you invest in Bangladesh, your products manufactured in Bangladesh will get duty-free access in European and American market and thus will jack up your profit,” Ahmed told ICC members.
He also urged them to make Bangladesh their major import destination.
He also assured the traders and businessmen that there concerned over poor navigability Bangladesh’s waterways, which has been affecting the transport of cargoes to North-East India through Bangladesh, would be addressed.
Stating that he has no knowledge about the ban imposed by Bangladesh on the export of Hilsa fish to India, Ahmed said the matter would be looked into.
ICC vice president Roopen Roy admitted that the trade balance between the two countries was largely tilted in favour of India.
“The India-Bangladesh trade gap has been mostly due to lower degree of export complementarity on part of Bangladesh and a relatively weak comparative advantage in exporting products.”
The ICC director general Rajeev Singh in his observations emphasised the need to address the bilateral issues like Teesta water sharing and implementation of land Boundary Agreement between the two countries.