India has urged the Bangladesh government to resume the import of meat from the neighbouring country as the traders concerned in both the countries are being hit hard by the non-shipment of such items, officials said.
The Indian embassy in Dhaka has recently sent a letter to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock with a request to resolve the issue.
The Bangladesh government has stopped the import of frozen meat, especially buffalo meat, from India with a view to protecting local cattle farmers and helping the domestic livestock sector flourish, a sector insider said.
According to the Import Policy-2021-24 Notification that was issued in April 2022 by the commerce ministry, prior approval has to be taken from the Department of Livestock for import of meat including frozen buffalo (bovine) meat, says the letter.
Both Indian exporter and Bangladeshi importer associations have raised concern over the issue in the past couple of months, reads the letter.
They also have highlighted that due to change in the import policy, no import of frozen bovine meat has taken place in the past few months affecting their businesses.
All Indian Buffalo and Sheep Meat Exporters Association (AIMLEA) and Bangladesh Meat Importers and Traders Association (BMITA) have requested the Bangladesh government authorities concerned to consider resolving the issue.
The letter highlighted that the Bangladesh national budget for the fiscal year 2021-22 imposed 20 per cent supplementary duty along with an increase in the assessment value from US$ 4.0/kg to US$ 5.0/kg that was introduced for frozen boneless bovine meat imports from India. The issue nullifies the SAFTA benefit available to Indian exporters, it said.
It mentioned that Indian companies are among the largest global exporters of high-quality, hygienically processed meat, of a variety that is non-competitive in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in meat production, a source said, but spent nearly US$ 2.5 million in the fiscal year 2017-18 to import the item from 14 countries. Some luxury hotels and food chains import the meat, the source added.
The country produced over 8.44 million tonnes of meat in the FY 2020-21 against an annual demand of nearly 7.4 million tonnes, according to the Department of Livestock Services (DLS).
According to a Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) concept paper, meat import has increased by about four times in five years -- from US$ 0.72 million in FY 2013-14 to nearly US$ 2.5 million in FY 2017-18.
Bangladesh imported meat from 14 countries, with India being the largest source.
Other countries included Ethiopia, France, Korea, Thailand, China, United Arab Emirates (UAE), USA, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.