India and Bangladesh to start discussion on trade pact at an early date

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.
| Photo Credit: Murali Kumar K.

India and Bangladesh on Thursday agreed to start discussion on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) at “an early date”. The decision was arrived at during a formal meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his visiting counterpart from Bangladesh Tipu Munshi in which the Bangladesh delegation urged India to avoid frequent disruption in export of essential commodities to Bangladesh.

“Further, both sides agreed that CEPA will create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in India and Bangladesh. In addition, the partnership would establish reliable and sustainable Regional Value Chains (RVCs),” a press note issued by the Indian side declared. 

India and Bangladesh carried out a joint feasibility study on a CEPA and the press statement informed that the study confirmed the CEPA would “provide a sound basis for substantial enhancement of trade and commercial partnership between the two countries”.

Also read: India prohibits export of wheat, onion seeds with immediate effect 

Apart from the CEPA, the two sides discussed “removal of non-tariff barriers and port restrictions, re-opening of border  haats, harmonisation and mutual recognition of standards and procedures on both sides, settlement of trade in Indian currency, strengthening connectivity and trade infrastructure”. 

A diplomatic source informed that the delegation from Bangladesh urged India to prevent sudden disruption in supply of essential commodities. On multiple occasions in the last few years, Indian export ban on agriculture items like onions had triggered domestic price rise in Bangladesh. The source also informed that the visiting side raised the issue of Indian anti-dumping duty on jute products from Bangladesh which has remained in place since at least 2017. The anti-dumping measure prevents Bangladesh jute products from landing in the Indian market and Dhaka has been asking for the removal of the measure. The official said that both sides held “fruitful” discussion on issues of mutual interest.

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