Hasina, Modi direct officials to start CEPA negotiations this year
Bangladesh and India have agreed to start negotiations within this year – for signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi directed trade officials on both sides to complete the negotiations of CEPA at the earliest and in time for Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC status. The two leaders welcomed the recent finalization of a joint feasibility study which recommended that CEPA will be beneficial for both countries, according to the joint statement issued today (September 7, 2022). Read: Indian investors can set up industries in Bangladesh through buy-back arrangement: PM Modi on Tuesday said Bangladesh is India’s largest development partner and their largest trade partner in the region. “Today, India is the largest market in Asia for Bangladesh’s exports. To further accelerate this growth, we will soon start discussions on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” he said. With the expansion of connectivity between the two countries, and the development of trade infrastructure on the border, the two economies will be able to connect more with each other, support each other, Modi said, adding that their bilateral trade is growing rapidly. Read: Dhaka to list Indian Oil as G2G supplier of refined petroleum products During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Bangladesh from March 26 to 27 last year, both sides discussed the prospects of entering into a CEPA. To enhance trade between the two countries, both Prime Ministers underscored the need for removal of non-tariff barriers. President of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI), Abdul Matlub Ahmad, has said the CEPA will be a win-win for both the countries. Read CEPA to be win-win for both countries: IBCCI President Reiterating the importance of facilitating trade between the two countries, Hasina and Modi stressed the urgent need for upgradation of infrastructure and facilities at the land customs stations, and for removal of port restrictions and other non-tariff barriers, according to the joint statement. The Indian side reiterated its request for at least one major land port without port restrictions or negative list of restrictions, on the border with northeast India, for easier market access, starting with ICP Agartala-Akhaura. Both leaders welcomed the progress made on India’s proposal to fund the development of a second freight gate at Petrapole-Benapole ICP and directed the officials to complete the work at the earliest. Read Stakeholders urge for inclusion of a proposal in CEPA for setting up joint testing laboratory
CEPA to be win-win for both countries: IBCCI President
President of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) Abdul Matlub Ahmad has said the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), now under discussion, will be a win-win for both the countries. “It’ll benefit both sides,” he told UNB on Saturday, adding that such a framework agreement will help boost trade further. Bangladesh and India want to begin the required negotiations for signing the CEPA. The issue will further be discussed during the state visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi this week. Representatives from the business bodies of Bangladesh will also accompany the Prime Minister during the visit. Bangladesh and India recognized the “immense potential” of bilateral economic and commercial ties. During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Bangladesh from March 26 to 27 last year, both sides discussed the prospects of entering into a CEPA. Read: Joint India-Bangladesh feasibility study on CEPA gains momentum To enhance trade between the two countries, both Prime Ministers underscored the need for removal of non-tariff barriers. Matlub, also former president of the apex trade body FBCCI, said that both sides should talk about instant supply of essential commodities like wheat, sugar, cotton and onion to Bangladesh if Bangladesh faces any shortage. “It can be reciprocal,” he said, adding that Bangladesh can also extend such support if India faces any shortage of any essentials that is available in Bangladesh. He said the private sector will have come forward in this regard but the governments of the two countries will create the ground for such cooperation.
Stakeholders urge for inclusion of a proposal in CEPA for setting up joint testing laboratory
Stakeholders from both public and private sectors have urged the commerce ministry to include a proposal for setting up joint testing laboratories and introducing one-stop service for investors in the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Bangladesh and India. They made the call at the 3rd stakeholder consultation meeting, organized by the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) on CEPA on Sunday through a physical and zoom platform. The meeting was solely focused on the trade in goods of the joint study, said a press release. All the stakeholders hoped that the proposed CEPA agreement will result in removing the trade barriers and enhance higher volume of trade between the two neighbouring countries. Addressing the meeting Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said Bangladesh’s export growth performance in the Indian market has more potential. He also highlighted that the country’s trade has been making a momentous contribution to the economic development of Bangladesh in terms of foreign exchange earnings, improving the balance of payments and faster creation of employment. Md Jafar Uddin, chief executive officer (CEO) of the BFTI chaired the event and emphasized that an effective CEPA between the two countries would not only benefit both the countries in terms of enhanced employment generation and export earnings but also would help Bangladesh identify its untapped potential for export to India. BFTI director Md. Obaidul Azam moderated the programme. Dr Selim Raihan, lead consultant, CEPA joint feasibility study made his special remarks on the joint study at the beginning of the meeting. Mr Mahtab Uddin, sectoral consultant of the study presented the key-note presentation at the consultation meeting.High officials from public sector and private sector, business leaders, and academicians participated in the consultation meeting as stakeholders. Among others, A.H.M. Ahasan, vice-chairman of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Md. Hafizur Rahman, additional Secretary of ministry of commerce, Hafizur Rahman, director general of WTO Cell of the commerce ministry, Dr Md. KhairuzzamanMozumder, additional secretary, finance division, Noor Md. Mahbubul Haq, Joint Secretary, Sha Md. Abu Raihan Alberuni, member, Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission, Mohammad Jahangeer Kobir, Joint Secretary and Member, Bangladesh Land Port Authority and representatives from associations and chambers attended the consultation meeting. The Centre for Regional Trade (CRT) under the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) has been nominated to conduct the joint study from the Government of India.
CEPA to be a gamechanger for Dhaka-Delhi trade ties: Doraiswami
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Bangladesh and India will be a gamechanger for bilateral trade partnership, says Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami. CEPA is under active discussion of both the governments, he said while addressing a virtual event on Wednesday. High Commissioner Doraiswami highlighted Duty-Free Quota-Free market access available to Bangladesh products under SAFTA since 2011. He said India’s vast consumer market offers enormous opportunities for the quality food products from Bangladesh and underscored the importance of linkages among trade bodies. The High Commissioner also emphasized the importance of finalizing reciprocal arrangements with regard to food safety standards and rapid upgradation of logistics to enhance such trade. Also read: Greater trade, connectivity hold brighter future for Dhaka-Delhi ties: Doraiswami Focusing on Bangladesh-India trade agricultural and processed food products, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in association with Bangladesh Fresh Fruits Importers Association and India Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised the virtual conference and India-Bangladesh Trade Fair on Agri Products.
Bangladesh prepares to face challenges after transition from LDC
Bangladesh is focusing on bilateral free and preferential trade deals as a strategy to overcome the possible losses of global trade concessions after its graduation to a developing economy. Studies on the feasibility of signing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) with a number of countries have been completed, according to an official document. Read:TRIPS transition period for LDCs extended by 13 years The countries and organisations include Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and Eurasian Economic Commission. The possibility of Bangladesh signing such trade agreements with China, Myanmar, Nigeria, Mali, Macedonia, Mauritius, Jordan, USA, Iraq and Lebanon is also being explored. Meanwhile, a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Bangladesh and India is also on the anvil. Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) and Indian Foreign Trade Institute are preparing a report on a joint study on CEPA. Read Dhaka-Beijing ties can be prime mover for Bangladesh’s transformation: Debapriya The CEPA is a bit different from FTAs as it covers a lot of issues such as trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights and e-commerce. Bangladesh has signed a bilateral PTA with Bhutan on December 6, 2020. Under the agreement, 34 Bhutanese products will get duty-free access to the Bangladeshi market and 100 Bangladesh products to get similar access to Bhutan. The commodities from Bangladesh include baby clothes and clothing accessories, men's trousers and shorts, jackets and blazers, jute and jute goods, leather and leather goods, dry cell battery, fan, watch, potato, condensed milk, cement, toothbrush, plywood, particle board, mineral and carbonated water, green tea, orange juice, pineapple juice, and guava juice. Read:Dhaka seeks incentive-based package for sustainable graduation of LDCs The 34 products from Bhutan that will get duty-free access to the Bangladesh market include orange, apple, ginger, fruit juice, milk, natural honey, wheat flour, homogenised preparations of jams, fruit jellies, marmalades, food preparations of soybeans, mineral water, wheat bran, quartzite, cement clinker, limestone, wooden particle boards, and wooden furniture. Both the countries will be able to increase the number of items gradually through consultation. PTA negotiations with Nepal are at the final stage. Read BGMEA discusses export, FDI opportunities with Bangladesh envoy
Service sectors in focus at a consultation meeting on CEPA
Bangladesh and India can derive immense benefits in trading services, said speakers at a meeting on Monday as the two neighbours are working on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI), assigned to conduct Joint Feasibility Study on (CEPA) by the commerce ministry, virtually organized the second consultation meeting with the stakeholders. The meeting focused on promoting services sectors including tourism and travel-related services, engineering services, IT and IT-Enabled Services, health-related services, construction services in Bangladesh. Also read: Joint India-Bangladesh feasibility study on CEPA gains momentum Dr. Md. Jafar Uddin, Senior Secretary of Ministry of Commerce and the Chief Guest of the meeting said “Service is a vibrant driver of economic growth, employment generation, poverty elevation, and critical in sustaining export-driven growth”. He noted that “the export-driven manufacturing sector reached a new height with an average 12.7% growth, supported by the greater role of modern service sector activities in areas of transport, banking, real estate, ICT and education”. He pointed out that the service sector’s contribution to the country’s international trade is also growing and it could facilitate the growth of Total Factor Productivity (TFP) and become a key component for future growth acceleration. Md. Obaidul Azam, Chief Executive Officer (In-charge) of BFTI chaired and moderated the event. Md. Abdul Quaiyum, Sectoral Consultant of the Study presented the key-note paper. Officials from public sectors, business leaders, academicians and representatives from different associations participated in the meeting as stakeholders. They said that like manufactured products, many services can now be traded and Bangladesh should concentrate on this to reduce the trade deficit with India. The stakeholders expected that the proposed CEPA agreement will enhance the basis for increasing trade in other services sectors for mutual interest and ease of doing business process for trade. Md. Jashim Uddin, President of FBCCI, Mr. Rizwan Rahman, President of DCCI, Md. Shahidul Islam, Additional Secretary (FTA Wing) of Ministry of Commerce, Dr. Selim Raihan, Lead Consultant ofthe CEPA Study, Syed Almas Kabir, President of BASIS, Rahel Ahmed, CEO of Nagad,Eng. Rabiul Alam,Director & CEO of Energypac Engineering Ltd., Mohammad Hatem, 1st Vice President of BKMEA (R&D Dept), Jabed Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh Tourism Board and Mr. Taufiq Rahman, Director of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), etc. participated in the meeting.
Dhaka, Delhi need much stronger framework for future economic ties: Debapriya
Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya has said Bangladesh and India need a “much more robust framework” for their future economic relationship and a change in the framework is important to make that happen. The macroeconomist and public policy analyst said the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), now on the table, needs to be coherent, dynamic and inclusive to address the challenges ahead and help boost trade and investment between the two countries. “CEPA has to be coherent, dynamic and inclusive. CEPA is the name of the game,” said Debapriya highlighting Bangladesh-India relations on three fronts -- leftover, built-in and emerging issues. Also read: New conversation on int'l dev cooperation needed: Debapriya The former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the World Trade Organization (WTO) made the remarks while delivering his speech at a symposium titled ‘Bangladesh-India Relations: Prognosis for the Future’ held recently. Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami delivered the keynote speech at the symposium. Renowned scholar-diplomat and adviser on foreign affairs to the last caretaker government Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury chaired the event hosted by the Cosmos Foundation, philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group. Chairman of the Cosmos Foundation Enayetullah Khan delivered the opening remarks at the event. An array of experts from Bangladesh and India -- former Ambassador Tariq A. Karim, Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore Prof C. Raja Mohan, Dhaka University Prof Imtiaz Ahmed, former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) President Maj Gen (retd) A. N. M. Muniruzzaman, CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun, Brig. Gen. (retd) Shahedul Anam Khan and former Indian Foreign Secretary Krishnan Srinivasan -- were brought together for the online symposium to assess the state of relations between the two countries and identify the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the effort to take it forward. The noted economist said the leftover issues are very well known to all -- water, border security issues and others which will have to deal with successfully. He said the built-in issues are essentially the trade, investment, connectivity and all other issues. “We can’t escape from these issues.” Debapriya said the third set of issues is the emerging issues that include IT, financial inclusions and many other issues. The renowned economist said they need a framework within which all these three types of issues can be addressed. “We need a framework which will also address the current emphasis of our cooperation on the economic front.” Also read: Dhaka, Delhi want enhanced connectivity for prosperity He said Bangladesh and India have achieved quite a lot in the recent past, especially over the last 10 years, with a move from trade focus to more on connectivity one. “What’s important to make the next step?” he said, highlighting the importance of investment focus -- the production value chain issue. Debapriya said Bangladesh cannot solve its leftover issues without improving the space for negotiation. Highlighting Bangladesh’s economic growth, Debapriya said Bangladesh deserves a “less than full reciprocity” in the relationship as it goes. He said dealing with the external issue, one of the understated dimensions of Indo-Bangla relationship, is how Bangladesh is cooperating with India or how India is cooperating with Bangladesh at the global stage. Debapriya said India has to be a part of the smooth transition of LDC graduation of Bangladesh, and said India has provided duty- and quota-free market access which helped Bangladesh’s exports to India cross US$ 1.2 billion-dollar mark. “I think India has to continue with the duty- and quota-free market access in line with other markets providers like the European, Canada and Australia,” the economist said. He added that this is a declaration that will continue to support Bangladesh with duty- and quota-free market access for the export of garments at least in three years, not nine years, in line with WTO proposals. It will be a great service and it will continue greatly to strengthen the relationship. CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun said the relationship between Bangladesh and India is covering a wide range of aspects, including trade, investment, power and energy; communication, health, education and culture. She said the collaboration between the two countries perceives an important factor, not only for the two countries but also for enhancing South Asian cooperation. Fahmida said they need to understand the challenges and identify the opportunities through concrete actions by both the countries. The economist laid emphasis on the issue of harnessing advantage of closer bilateral cooperation and leveraging this cooperation to ensure strengthening regional and global integration of the economy. The CPD economist said Bangladesh needs reimaging its own policies, strategies and options during this journey. As a large neighbour, she said, India can feature prominently through extending support and cooperation in a number of areas and noted that in the last decade, there were a number of initiatives towards depending bilateral cooperation in different areas, including trade and goods, services, energy, and multimodal transport connectivity, cross-border trade, capacity building, deepening people-to-people connectivity, and also security measures. “For Bangladesh, there’re many trade-related challenges. One of the important challenges is to make greater use of Indian offer of duty- and quota-free market access. It’s still underutilised,” Fahmida said, adding that there is a huge trade gap, too. Statistics showed that trade and economic cooperation between India and Bangladesh is much lower than its full potential, she added. According to the World Bank Study, Bangladesh and India trade economic potential is almost $16 billion, but the actual trade is around $10 billion. Fahmida said the cost of trading is very high due to lack of trade facilitation and logistic shortcoming. She said the future relationship between Bangladesh and India will depend on how the challenges are addressed by both the countries.