Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and his counterpart Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan on Wednesday signed a framework on trade and investment between Bangladesh and Australia at a virtual signing ceremony.
The Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA), the first of this kind between Australia and Bangladesh in the last five decades, is expected to provide a platform for institutionalised economic interactions and to open newer opportunities for trade and investment between the two countries, a spokesperson of the foreign ministry said while announcing the deal.
Bangladesh Australia bilateral trade has grown six times over the past decade, reaching $2.6 billion last year.
Readymadge garment (RMG), agriculture, food and education services were key drivers of this growth.
A joint working group will be formed under TIFA, with due representations from relevant sectors and sub-sectors.
The JWG is expected to offer a mechanism to take forward discussion to realise fuller potentials of trade and investment.
While speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister Tipu Munshi said, “I am profoundly happy that TIFA has been signed in the year while Bangladesh is celebrating Golden Jubilee of her Independence and the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman”.
“We would expect the TIFA to address all relevant questions including retention of the DFQF treatment for Bangladesh in the post LDC graduation, trade liberalisation, creating conducive atmosphere for greater trade in services and flow of investment,” he added. Minister Munshi invited his Australian counterpart to visit Dhaka soon.
Minister Tehan warmly accepted the invitation and promised to visit Bangladesh next year with a trade and investment delegation, said the spokesperson.
“The Morrison government is working to energise and expand the trade and investment relationship between Australia and Bangladesh, to support jobs and business opportunities in both countries,” Mr Tehan said.
He assured Bangladesh of the continuation of DFQF treatment pending next review which is not scheduled in the foreseeable future. “Australia has the potential to meet Bangladesh’s increasing education, training and energy needs. And we offer world class expertise, in agriculture and infrastructure development,” he added.
Despite not being an elaborate and legally binding agreement, TIFA can help add new tradeable items from both sides and facilitate bilateral trade and investment. Australia proposed to host the inaugural meeting of the JWG in early 2022.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to Australia Sufiur Rahman and Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Jeremy Bruer also spoke at the event.
High Commissioner Mr Rahman said that Australia can utilise Bangladesh as one of its major suppliers of manufactured goods.
“Australia can see Bangladesh as the entry point to the sub-regional market of over 300 million people,” he added.
The signing was witnessed by the commerce secretary, representatives from the two high commissions, DFAT Australia, commerce ministry, and the foreign ministry.