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Indian commerce secretary likely to visit Dhaka next month

GreenWatch Desk Diplomacy 2023-02-10, 10:45pm

The Commerce Secretary of India is expected to visit Bangladesh at the end of the next month (March) to attend the Bangladesh-India Commerce secretary level meeting to be held in Dhaka.

"Bangladesh has already sent an invitation to Indian authority and is expecting India's consent in this regard soon. Hopefully, the visit would commence at the end of March this year," a source familiar with the development told BSS today.

Different trade related issues, including Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), lifting of anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute and jute products, withdrawal of export ban on some Bangladeshi products, ensuring supply chain of essential commodities would come up prominently in discussion during the upcoming Bangladesh-India commerce secretary meeting, the source said.

When asked, the sources, however, informed that formal negotiation on Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Bangladesh and India is likely to commence "very soon" to further boost bilateral trade and investment by creating a new institutional framework and supply chain linkage.

The last commerce secretary level meeting of both the countries was held in the Indian capital New Delhi in March last year. Later, a joint feasibility study was carried out on CEPA as per the decision of the meeting.

The joint feasibility study suggests that the CEPA would provide a sound basis for substantial enhancement of trade and commercial partnership between the two countries and would create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in Bangladesh and India.

Later, the two countries agreed to start discussions on CEPA at an early date for greater economic benefit of the two neighbours. The agreement came at the Bangladesh-India commerce ministerial level meeting held in New Delhi in December last year.

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and his Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal led their respective sides at the meeting.

However, the importance of CEPA negotiations were also came up in the discussion during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's India visit in September last year.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi directed trade officials on both sides to complete the CEPA negotiations at the earliest and in time for Bangladesh's graduation from LDC status.

Bangladesh is India's biggest trade partner in South Asia. The bilateral trade has grown from $9 billion to $18 billion in the last five years, according to available reports.

Bangladesh has also become the fourth largest export destination for India with the exports registering a growth of over 66% from $9.69 billion in 2020-21 to $16.15 billion in 2021-22.

Bangladesh's export in India also registered an impressive growth during the last couple of years. According to available data, Bangladesh's export to India registered 1.99 billion US Dollar in 2022 against 1.28 billion US dollars in 2021, reports BSS.