RTA policy gets cabinet nod

Drive for deeper economic integration with neighbours

| Updated: June 07, 2022 09:59:24

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An umbrella guideline for signing all types of bilateral deals has got the cabinet nod as Bangladesh drives for regional economic integration for substituting loss of preferential market access.

Officials say the Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) policy, approved last week, will provide guidance in negotiating, signing, and implementing treaties aimed at encouraging the free movement of goods and services, among other economic interactions.

Thus the policy framework is meant for contributing to the national economy, investment, and public welfare through deeper trade and economic integration.

Objectives of the RTA policy also include guiding identification and prioritisation of potential partners for RTAs, determination of RTA coverage for negotiation, institutional arrangement and authority, strategy for negotiation, and internal procedures for concluding deals.

The officials say with Bangladesh now coming close to graduation from the world's poor-country club the government is firm on signing some free-trade deals with potential trade partners to offset the impacts of losing trade preferences after graduation.

Under the RTA policy, the next-door neighbours and blocs having trade potential, good connectivity, bilateral cooperation and strategic partnership will get priority in Bangladesh's endeavour for free-trade deals.

The policy also puts on priority list the countries which can be a gateway for market access to other nations and countries to which Bangladesh may lose preferential trading facility shortly.

The RTAs should be beyond conventional trade pacts, covering all the trade aspects like trade in goods and services and investment, intellectual property and labour issues, the policy reads.

A senior commerce ministry official told the FE the cabinet approved the policy with a "minor suggestion", and after incorporation it will be sent to the Bangladesh Government Press for publication.

The policy says Bangladesh needs to brace itself for navigating all obstacles on its way to access to global and regional markets for a smooth and sustainable LDC (least-developed country) graduation into the next trajectory of growth.

Opinions are rife that, alongside trying to retain existing preferential market access after graduation, the conclusion of RTAs with prospective trading partners can be an instrument to augment the trade and investment momentum of the country.

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