Dhaka has started the process to conduct a feasibility study on signing either a PTA or FTA with Singapore, aiming to further strengthen economic and trade ties with the Southeast Asian country, officials said.
As part of the exercise, the commerce ministry has recently asked the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) to conduct the study according to its policy guidelines on Free Trade Agreement-2010 (FTA-2010).
It also asked the BTTC to submit the report to the ministry within September.
A senior official of the state-run commission said, "We have received a letter from the commerce ministry asking to conduct a feasibility study on signing Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA)/Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Singapore."
"We are now at the initial stage to start the feasibility study," he said.
Singapore is one of the important trade partners of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh exported worth US$116.57 million to Singapore in the last fiscal year of 2020-21.
Currently, the principal export products of Bangladesh to Singapore are knitwear, woven garments, agricultural products, engineering products, home textile, etc.
Singaporean firms have invested US$ 8.0 billion in the country since last year.
The feasibility study will find out which deal - PTA or FTA - with Singapore will benefit Bangladesh, a senior official of the commerce ministry said. After that, the authorities concerned will enter into negotiations to ink the deal, he added.
However, a high official said PTA was better for Bangladesh.
"FTA deal is very difficult," said the official, adding that some issues, including revenue losses, were involved with FTAs as all products of both the countries enjoy duty-free facility under FTAs.
Many developed countries will not provide duty-free facility to Bangladesh after its graduation from LDC status in 2024, he further said.
BTTC will complete the study on Singapore for examining economic and export potentiality.