Dhaka asks Delhi to come out of colonial mindset in bilateral trade

Dhaka, Aug 6 (APP)-As Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee arrives in Dhaka on Saturday on a daylong visit, Bangladesh has seemingly prepared a dossier containing its oft-repeated demands for fair deal in its trade with the neighbouring country. Commerce Minister M Faruk Khan has said that different state governments in India should not create non-tariff barrier for Bangladeshi exports as the political leadership of both the countries are determined to remove the impediments.
“Bangladesh’s export to India is international trade and the Indian central  government should take decision about it. Otherwise, it will be difficult to remove all the trade barriers,” he said at a seminar on Bangladesh-India Trade: A Closer Look in Dhaka.
The seminar is organised by the country’s leading Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI).
The Minister said recently an Indian state government instructed to test each Bangladeshi soap consignment destined to northeastern region of India. This has created hurdle for the Bangladeshi exporters, he said.
“India should come out of its colonial mindset,” he said adding, “We wanted to remove all the trade barriers by July, but now we expect it to be removed by December.”
“New Delhi has security concern and if it moves one step forward, then it takes two steps backward,” Faruk said.
About the growing trade gap between the two countries, he said Bangladesh needs to diversify its export basket and become competitive to reduce the imbalance.
“It is natural that more Indian cars will come to Bangladesh due to price competitiveness,” he said.
Economic Affairs adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Mashiur Rahman, who enjoys the rank and status of full cabinet Minister, said it will cost less to send Indian goods to northeastern states through Bangladesh and Dhaka expects that New Delhi would reciprocate by removing all the trade barriers.
The adviser said there is no reason that Bangladesh’s export to India will fall due to transshipment facility.
“Northeastern Indian states will prosper in the future, which will increase the income of the people and due to proximity, Bangladeshi products will be cheaper for them,” he explained.
About different duties and taxes imposed by the Indian government on Bangladeshi products, he said before making it an issue any case, Dhaka must have adequate evidence that the levy is discriminatory.
“If the tax is applicable for all countries, then Bangladesh will have little say,” he said.
MCCI president M Anis Ud Dowla said South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement was signed with lot of hopes and aspirations but it did not yield the desired result.
“Bangladesh-India trade has been caught up in non-tariff barriers (NTBs) which remain mostly unseen but very painful for the parties engaged in trade,” he said.
“India should take a proactive role in eliminating NTBs taking all the member countries together,” Dowla said adding, “There is a module for discussing NTBs under WTO and SAFTA, but it is not exhaustive enough.”.
Dowla said closer Indian economic integration with Bangladesh is an important way for reducing economic and political isolation of the seven northeastern states from the rest of the India.
Citibank NA country representative in Bangladesh Mamun Rashid in his presentation said the biggest NTB is the mindset.
“Realisation of payment, excessive paper work, procedural delays and high transportation costs are the pain points in Indo-Bangladesh trade,” he said.
He urged the Indian government to improve infrastructural facilities and ensure cooperation on customs.
Deputy managing director of Agriculture Marketing Company Ahsan Khan Chowdhury in his presentation said the Indian government should avoid all the basic duty, countervailing duty, CESS and ACD and remove all NTBs.
The Bangladesh government should also focus on infrastructural development and continue efforts to improve the trade ties with India.
Former Foreign Secretary Farooq Sobhan said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India has opened up enormous opportunities for both the countries.
He, however, said effective follow-up process should be in place to implement the decisions taken at the summit meeting.
A large number of Bangladeshi businessmen and bureaucrats attended the seminar.


06 August, 2010