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The Financial Express

Para-tariff barriers blight trade benefits from SAFTA deal

| Updated: August 31, 2021 19:08:34


File photo used for representational purpose. (Collected) File photo used for representational purpose. (Collected)

Traders cannot reap full benefit of concessionary duty under SAFTA for para-tariff barriers in the form of other taxes that also impede trade expansion, according to views coming from a review of Bangladesh-India business ambiance.

During the reappraisal of tariff and trade and trade connectivity at a meet in Dhaka Sunday, the impugned matter of anti-dumping duty that affects Bangladesh jute export to India came up, and the top Indian diplomat here clarified that it is "company-specific", not "country-specific".

Under the SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement) rules, SAARC countries can enjoy a lower -- zero to five per cent -- customs-duty rates on import products between them.

However, in many cases, Bangladesh government imposed Regulatory Duty, Supplementary Duty, Advance Income Tax or other types of taxes on import products, making SAFTA benefit less effective, an Indian High Commission official told a seminar.

Pramyesh Basall, second secretary (commercial) of the Indian high commission in Dhaka, pointed out the barriers, along with some other issues, in a seminar on Financial and Business issues between the countries, held Sunday on the mission premises.

Indian High Comm-issioner Vikram Dorais-wami, Railway adviser Anita Barik, Priyanshu Tiwari, resident representative of Exim Bank India, shared different aspects of bilateral trade between the two countries.

The Indian high commissioner underscored the need for addressing infrastructure deficit between the countries to boost bilateral trade through land ports and import-export of electricity.

He applauded the agreement on accessing two seaports of Bangladesh -- Chattogram and Mongla -- as 'a game changer' in regional trade.

He said the use of the seaports has to be cost-effective to make those as regional hubs of connectivity.

Responding to a question on implications of a new Indian customs act for trade, the diplomat said the SAFTA Rules of Origin (RoO) can supersede other rules.

So far, new customs rules of India have not created any complexities on import from Bangladesh during the last one year, he told his audience.

On anti-dumping duty (ADD) on export of jute from Bangladesh, he claimed the jute products enjoy 8.0 to 12 percent subsidy of the Bangladesh government which may keep its prices competitive in the USA and the EU or other countries in respect of transportation and other issues. However, it is difficult for the competitors in a neighbouring country, he added.

Still, the Indian counterpart requested providing data to Bangladeshi exporters to investigate the matter of fair price but they did not get it, he said.

"ADD is a company-specific measure, not country-specific," the diplomat told the function.

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