Bangladesh will propose Brazil to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) in the upcoming Mercosur conference to increase the bilateral trade.
Besides, a business delegation from Bangladesh also proposed their Brazilian counterparts to invest in the country's proposed economic zones especially to set up warehouses to get supplies of Brazilian cotton within the shortest possible time, according to a commerce ministry statement issued in Dhaka on Thursday.
A 15-member Bangladeshi delegation, including leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and led by Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, is visiting Brazil to explore business potentials there.
Despite having huge demand for readymade garment (RMG), pharmaceuticals and few other products, Bangladesh could not export the items to Brazil due to high duty there, said the commerce minister.
"As a result, the trade gap between the two countries is going up," he said, during meetings with the Brazilian commerce minister and state minister for Foreign Trade in the first phase of his visit to the Mercosur bloc, the South American common market comprising of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
In last fiscal year, Bangladesh exported goods worth only US$ 176.90 million to Brazil while its imports from Brazil stood at $1.52 billion.
During the meetings, Mr. Munshi stressed on reducing the high duty to reduce the trade gap between Bangladesh and Brazil. He also sought sincere cooperation from the Brazilian government and its importers to narrow the existing trade deficit of Bangladesh.
An FTA would boost the export of Bangladeshi RMG to Brazil, he expressed the hope, adding that the country would consider with high priority while the FTA proposal would be placed in the upcoming Mercosur conference.
The commerce minister also exchanged views with the Brazilian external affairs minister, deputy minister for finance and leaders of Brazilian Association of Cotton Producers and National Federation of Industry.
During the meeting with leaders of Brazilian cotton producers, BGMEA president Dr Rubana Huq said Bangladesh imports $288 million worth of cotton from Brazil and we are the 4th largest importer of cotton, after China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
"We export only $163 million worth of RMG to Brazil," she said, stressing on the need for a win-win situation whereby they (Brazilian investors) could invest in Bangladesh's SEZ and also set up warehouses as transit time is over 50 days from Brazil.
On August 20, the BGMEA and Brazil's largest trade body, Sao Paolo Chamber of Commerce, signed a memorandum of understanding to increase the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.
The BGMEA also made a presentation on the prospects and success of locally made RMG and how collaboration can enhance trade between the two countries.
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