Vol. 5 Num 514 Mon. November 07, 2005  

India losing market in Bangladesh: Study

India's exports to Saarc countries rose 19 percent during April-August period, but fell significantly to Bangladesh, a study said.

The study called it a matter of concern as until last year Bangladesh was India's largest trading partner in the region.

"Ambiguous policies and investment climate in the country (India) has proved to be a major deterrent for Indian companies keen to enhance trading ties with Bangladesh," said the report released Saturday by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI). Established in 1905, PHD (Progress, Harmony and Development) Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the premier apex chamber serving trade, industry and commerce in eleven northern Indian states.

Bangladesh's share has slipped from 41 percent of the official exports from India to the whole of the Saarc region during 2003-04, to 30 percent during the first five months of 2005-06.

Likewise, Bangladesh's exports to India constituted hardly six percent of India's imports from the whole of the Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) region.

The PHDCCI study found India's trade with Saarc countries during April-August reached $2.29 billion, registering a 19 percent growth compared to the same period the previous year.

It said the recent thaw in India-Pakistan relations has resulted in the growth in bilateral trade during the period.

"India's exports to Pakistan have gone up by 10 percent. Significantly, answering the long-standing concerns of Pakistan about the non-tariff barriers faced by their products in India, exports to India have registered a whopping 86 percent growth during this period," the study said.

"It is indeed significant for India to consolidate its trade relations with Saarc countries to make a success out of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (Safta), which is scheduled to be launched on Jan 1, 2006."

PHDCCI President KN Memani said: "What is most important is that other Saarc countries have been able to increase their exports to India since some of them are very keen to enhance their market access to the expanding Indian market."

He hoped Pakistan would accord Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, to boost bilateral trade and also help neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Iran and CIS states to access the Indian market.

Citing the country's bilateral trade with Sri Lanka as a role model, Memani said the island country has emerged as India's largest trading partner in Saarc.

With a growth of 64 percent in bilateral trade, which stood at Rs.43.04 billion during April-August 2005-06 fiscal, the island nation has fast outperformed other member countries to proactively engage with India to its own economic advantage, the official said.

It said comparatively Nepal accounted for more than 31 percent of India's import from Saarc countries during April-August 2005-06, while Indian exports to Nepal were 13 percent of its total exports to Saarc member countries.