India-Bangladesh trade relations on the rise

Dhaka, Sep 6 (ANI): Trade relations between India and Bangladesh have witnessed a significant improvement in the recent past. In 2010-11, two-way trade crossed the US$ 5 billion mark as a result of a significant increase in Bangladesh's exports to India (68 percent over the previous year) and India's exports to Bangladesh (43 percent over the previous year).

Bangladesh's exports to India in 2010-11 was $ 512.5 million, and India's exports to Bangladesh in the same period was US$ 4586.8 million. India is the biggest export destination for Bangladesh outside the Western world.

The main items of Bangladesh exports to India include raw jute ($ 159 million); jute goods ($69 m); fish ($56 m); mineral distillates ($28 m); fruits ($28m); garments ($25 m); copper/articles ($25 m); minerals ($13 m); cotton waste ($ 11m); iron/steel ($8 m) and articles ($11 m); knitwear ($10m); leather ($10 m); ceramic ($ 7m) etc.

The main items of Bangladesh imports from India include cotton (raw, yarn, fabrics)-$1505.5 million; vehicles and parts, other than rail rolling stock ($ 474m); animal feed/ food waste ($ 300m); boilers, machinery/mechanical appliances ($ 248m); cereals ($ 209m); iron and steel ($ 173m); organic chemicals ($ 131m); electrical machinery and equipment ($ 115m); vegetables/roots and tubers ($ 111m); mineral fuels/waxes/ bituminous products ($ 106 m); plastics/articles ($ 97 m); tanning chemicals ($ 82m); man-made fibres ($ 74m); rubber/articles ($ 65m); coffee, tea, spices ($ 58m) etc.

Inputs imported from India such as cotton, machinery, tanning chemicals etc. are used for value-addition for products such as ready made garments, knitwear, leather goods etc., and get reflected in Bangladesh's trade surplus elsewhere.

Tariff concessions granted by India to Bangladesh under SAFTA (as SAARC LDC) include a zero-duty market access for all, but 480 items in the sensitive list. India had further increased the duty-free access to 10 million pieces of readymade garments (RMG) from Bangladesh every year.

Taking into account the trade imbalance between the two countries in favour of India, Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his visit to Bangladesh today announced the removal of all 46 textile items from the sensitive list and zero duty access in all these 46 items for Bangladesh exports to India.

This unilateral gesture is expected to address a major and and long-standing demand from Bangladesh for increased market access for Bangladesh products to India.

India is upgrading seven main border Land Customs Stations (LCS) as Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at a total cost of Rs. 467 crores. ICPs will have facilities for immigration, customs, parking, banks, warehousing, quarantine, fuelling etc.

The measure will help improve trade with Bangladesh across West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Movement of goods between the two countries is covered by the existing 'Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (IWTT)' for use of waterways, 'Fundamental and Subsidiary Rules' guiding movement of railways, 'Standard Operating Procedures for movement of Trucks' between LCSs and 'Air Services Agreement'.

Further, to restore the traditional economic and cultural links between people in adjoining states in India and Bangladesh, Border Haats have been established, starting with inauguration of Border Haat in Meghalaya.

Bilateral investment will be facilitated by the recent conclusion of the 'Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement' and 'Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation' between the two countries.

It is hoped that Bangladesh investments in India will increase with easing of local currency transfer restrictions.

Given the geographical proximity, warm and friendly ties, availability of workforce and investment-supportive atmosphere, the quantum of Indian investment and trade with Bangladesh is further expected to improve for mutual benefit. (ANI)