Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has urged the Indian government to remove non-tariff barriers including countervailing duty – a type of import tax – to boost the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India.
Speaking at a bilateral meeting held by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in Dhaka on Tuesday, the minister said: “India has given us duty-free and quota-free access to all our products, except for tobacco and drugs. But due to non-tariff barriers, including the anti-dumping and countervailing duties, we cannot avail the facilities.
“We export jute to your country, but the [Indian] government has imposed anti-dumping duty on it,” the minister continued.
The meeting, titled “Bangladesh-India Business Meeting,” was attended by Arun Jaitley, the finance minister and corporate affairs minister of India, who is currently in Dhaka on a three-day official visit.
Addressing the meeting, Tofail mentioned that on January 5 this year, the Indian government imposed anti-dumping duty ranging from $6.30 to $351.72 per ton on the import of jute and jute products from Bangladesh for the next five years.
“In our bilateral trade, we export very little but import a huge amount of goods. So, I urge you to waive the non-tariff barriers considering the import volume to our country from yours,” Tofail said to Jaitley.
According to the latest data of Bangladesh Bank, in the 2016-17 fiscal year, Bangladesh exports to India were worth $672.40 million, while the imports from India were worth a staggering $6.16 billion.
The Bangladesh commerce minister also urged Indian investors to invest in Bangladesh, pointing out that over the past six years, the Indo-Bangla bilateral trade has seen impressive growth.
Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, second left, and Indian Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley, second right, in Bangladesh-India Business Meeting at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka, Bangladesh on October 3, 2017 | Focus Bangla
In response to Tofail's call, Jaitley put emphasis on dialogue to resolve the non-tariff barriers.
“I think we have a robust mechanism between the two counties to hold a dialogue. The issues can be resolved through such dialogues,” said the Indian finance minister.
“I think the time has come today to take the [Bangladesh-India bilateral] relationship to an entirely different level and I am delighted to see powerful contingent of Indian investment here,” he added.
The Indian minister further said: “India is a very large market and we welcome any one of you to invest in any sector in India because we have an open policy.”
Jaitley also urged Bangladesh government to explore new possible areas of bilateral cooperation, such as innovation, research, pharmaceuticals, health and information technology.
He further said the scope of Indian investment in any particular area of Bangladesh depended on the availability of proper transport facilities to that area.
“I do understand that Bangladesh has been in the process of establishing two special economic zones in the northern part of the country. These are two economic zones which will fully explore the manufacturing potential of Bangladesh,” he added.
FBCCI President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) President Pankaj Patel were also present at the meeting.