The Financial Express

Bangladesh-India trade talks turn barren

| Updated: March 12, 2021 20:28:46

Bangladesh-India trade talks turn barren

Bangladesh's proposals have received a lukewarm response from the Indian side at the bilateral meeting on trade issues held in Dhaka on Monday.

Dhaka could not derive any concrete result from the meeting on its two main concerns--- anti-dumping duty and Indian new customs rules on Bangladesh's export items, officials said.

"The discussion will continue…," an official, who took part in the Bangladesh-India commerce secretary-level meeting, told the FE after the meeting.

Asked whether any assurance came from the meeting on the issues of concern, another participant answered in the negative. "No, no, no," he uttered.

Asked, commerce secretary Dr. Md. Jafar Uddin, the Bangladesh team leader, however, expressed the hope that India would review the anti-dumping duty that it slapped on jute goods, hydrogen peroxide, and fishing net back in 2017 and afterwards.

"We've tabled the issue very strongly. They'll let us know after reviewing it because there are some technical matters," he said.

While addressing the anti-dumping duty issue, Mr. Uddin said, the Bangladesh side referred to some articles and provisions of the World Trade Organisation and the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement. "They will examine it."

Regarding new customs rules of Indian, he said Bangladesh requested India not to send a large volume of 'country of origination' certificates together for verification.

"We told them that the new customs rules were not in conformity with the SAFTA rules," he said.

Asked about the Indian response, Mr Uddin said that in most cases immediate decision does not come from such types of meetings.

"They will go back to their capital and examine (our arguments) and will let us know (the decision). You can write, they have assured us and may look into the matters positively," he said.

He said the meeting also discussed about the signing of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries.

"After graduation, the CEPA with India as a big trading partner will be very positive one," the secretary said. "We have to sign the deal as soon as possible."

The meeting, according to a press release, also discussed harmonisation of standards and mutual recognition of standards, cooperation under different common regional forum, facilitation of trade by removing non-tariff barriers, and import and export restrictions.

Enhancing the number of border markets (haats) and volume of trade through the haats, and expansion of port facilities were also discussed in the meeting.

The Indian new Customs Rules-2020 now administers the rules of origin under all trade agreements signed by India. The new rules have made the getting of tariff preference in its market tough for the countries having preferential deal with it.

Bangladeshi exports, officials said, are facing new types of barriers since the new rules came into effect in last September.

India slapped the anti-dumping duty on Bangladesh's jute yarn, hessian and bags, ranging between US$19 and $352 per tonne,in January 2017.

A similar duty, ranging between $27.81 and $91.47 per tonne, was also imposed on export of hydrogen peroxide to India from Bangladesh in April 2017.

In 2018, India also put anti-dumping duty, $2.69 per kilogramme, on fishing net, exported from Bangladesh to its domestic market.

Bangladesh failed to get the duties removed despite scores of consultations with India for years.

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