Bangladesh has requested Australia to designate a state agency to deal with government-to-government trade as boosting commercial cooperation between the two countries is planned, officials say.
They say the move is made as Bangladesh wants to import a slew of commodities in high demand, like coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG), fertilisers, and wheat, from Australia under G-to-G arrangement.
"…Australia might consider a governmental intermediary to enhance trade with Bangladesh on gas, coal, and wheat," Bangladesh High Commissi-oner to Canberra Mohammad Sufiur Rahman said in a recent meeting with Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan.
Australia recently commenced a similar sort of arrangement for hydrogen energy supply to Japan, he cited in the meeting.
Also, he said, the Canadian government designated Canadian Commercial Corporation as the liaison entity for undertaking sourcing from Canada on G-to-G basis.
Mr Rahman mentioned that Bangladesh imports Aus$20 billion worth of cotton, fuels, iron and steel, cereals, and oilseeds each. If 20 per cent of the imports are procured from Australia, the bilateral trade could grow to Aus$5.0 to 6.0 billion by 2025 and Aus$10 billion in next ten years, he said.
Trade between the two countries now hovers around US$1.5 billion. In fiscal year 2019-20 Bangladesh exported goods worth $762.9 million to Australia while imports from there valued $695.7 million.
The two countries have signed Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) aiming to facilitate enhancement of trade between them.
The Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade and Investment under the TIFA is meeting this week in Australia to discuss bottlenecks and ways forward to further enhance trade and investment.
The envoy also underscored the importance of conducting a study by Australia on Bangladesh to identify the opportunities and enable the businesses as well as governments to make informed choices.
Mr Rahman also proposed that the joint working group on trade and investment in its first meet may agree on a standing sub-group on customs cooperation and trade facilitation until Bangladesh and Australia agree to sign a deal like free-trade agreement (FTA) or comprehensive economic partnership arrangement (CEPA).