Vol. 4 Num 213 Wed. December 31, 2003  

Political will needed to remove trade barriers
Indian minister of state for commerce tells DCCI dialogue

The visiting Indian minister of state for commerce and industry has underscored the need for political will to eliminate trade barriers with Bangladesh.

"Mindset has to be changed and political will has to be there to remove barriers in trade and commerce for the interest of both the countries," Satyabrata Mookherjee said speaking at a discussion in Dhaka yesterday.

The dialogue on 'Trade Promotion between Bangladesh and India' was organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) at the chamber building.

The Indian minister however said the difficulties including non-tariff barriers can be resolved even before signing an FTA (free trade agreement) between the two countries.

"We can sit together to remove the barriers before the FTA," Mookherjee said. "What we see in newspapers is that the difficulties are so big, but I don't think so. Actually we are fighting against shadow of these difficulties."

He said the FTA would help reduce the existing trade gap between Bangladesh and India.

Citing an example he said Sri Lanka's import-export ratio was 16:1 with India which came down to 6:1 a couple of years after signing of an FTA between the two countries.

Proper infrastructure is also needed to reduce the trade gap. Bangladesh can seek Indian help in infrastructural development through joint venture, he said.

About WTO ministerial meeting at Cancun the Indian minister said developing and least developing countries should be integrated to tap benefit out of the global trade.

DCCI President Fazle RM Hasan emphasised reducing the ever-increasing trade imbalance between the two countries.

He mentioned that exports from India to Bangladesh was $1.35 billion while exports from Bangladesh was not even $100 million during 2002-03.

The DCCI president urged the Indian business community to take advantage of incentives and facilities offered by Bangladesh for attracting foreign investment.

DCCI Director Sayeeful Islam made a presentation on 'Bangladesh-India Bilateral Trade' at the meeting while immediate past president of DCCI Matiur Rahman, directors MH Rahman and Manzur Ahmed spoke, among others.