Vol. 5 Num 1135 Wed. August 08, 2007  

Trade under safta
Dhaka to ask Delhi to drop more items from sensitive list

The government will submit a list of products to Indian government requesting it to exclude those from the sensitive list Delhi earlier prepared for trade under Safta.

A high-powered inter-ministerial committee headed by a commerce ministry joint secretary will sit today to finalise the list.

Sources said different lists have been prepared based on the suggestions and recommendations from different chambers, business houses and trade experts. The meeting will discuss those recommendations and suggestions before finalising the list.

A senior official of the commerce ministry said India has named 744 products in its sensitive list for trade under the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta).

A total of 440 products in the sensitive list were getting duty exemption facilities under South Asian Preferential Trading Agreement (Sapta), the official added.

Dhaka had earlier requested Delhi to continue the duty exemption for those 440 products, but the Indian government rejected the appeal. Instead, Delhi now seeks a list of products to review its sensitive list.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association have provided a list of 100 products to the inter-ministerial committee for review.

Besides, Tariff Commission has suggested Dhaka should request Delhi to exclude agricultural products from the sensitive list as Bangladeshi farm products have good demands in India.

The commission also suggested steps for exclusion of plastic goods, leather shoes, steel products and electrical goods.

The Safta agreement came into effect on July 1 last year but due to long sensitive lists made by countries trade volume under Safta is not increasing.

Trade ministers of the member states later in a meeting in Kathmandu agreed to review the sensitive lists and sought fresh requests from each nation.

As per the Safta roadmap, the member states shall reduce their tariffs through trade liberalization programme, which will be implemented in two phases.

During the first phase, Pakistan and India will reduce tariffs to 0-5 percent by 2013, Sri Lanka by 2014 and four other Saarc members, including Bangladesh, by 2016.