Bangladesh Eyes FTAs with Seven Countries, Two Blocs


In order for signing FTAs (free trade agreements) so as to perpetuate duty-free market access to Bangladeshi products, the government is giving consideration to seven countries and two blocs as prospective partners.


On Sunday, the commerce ministry broadcasted a time-based action scheme on favorable market access and trade agreement with the intent to come across the obstacles of least developed country (LDC) graduation. 

The name of the countries written down in the action plan that are deemed to be the potential FTA partners for Bangladesh include Korea, Japan, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Canada.

It further envisions affiliating to the Eurasian Customs Union and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which are free trade agreements among the Asia-Pacific nations. 

A national workshop was conducted at Parjatan Bhaban regarding the nominated time-based action plan of the two LDC graduation-associated sub-committees. In the event, experts have articulated that Bangladesh would have to make its way towards FTA and PTA with its supreme trading partners in order to hold on to the prevailing preferential market access. This is because the country would no longer have its duty-free benefits following the LDC graduation.

They have also conversed that after the graduation in 2026, despite the fact that Bangladesh would receive duty-free access from the European Union as well as the United Kingdom until 2029, it would be deprived of its benefits from other countries from 2026. 

As per the action plan that has been set forth, Bangladesh would start off a study on the aftermath of having FTA with India and China, both concurrently and individually, by the end of this year.

The government has already broached the matter to Korea and Japan for signing FTA.

The action plan further divulged that, by December 2022, the government would take measures to determine the positives and negatives of acquiring the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. 

The action plan deduced that the crucial challenges for Bangladesh to maintain the existing market access in the EU would be article 29 of revised GSP regulation, ratification and implementation of 32 international conventions and meeting the rules of origin criteria.

It also mentioned that FTAs could be the sole system to retain duty-free market access in other countries. 

Senior commerce secretary, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, while concluding the workshop session, imparted that the significant matter to retain duty-free access after graduation would be signing FTA. He further added, “Increasing private sector competitiveness is also an important issue as we have an international market but we are not fully ready to tap the opportunity”. Bangladesh would have to minimize supplementary and regulatory duties by 2026 in order to negotiate FTA. 

Japan expressed that tariff rationalization was also a drawback but the National Board of Revenue was dealing with it.

Commerce minister Tipu Munshi stated, “The prime minister suggested starting work on FTA and PTA and she said if we do not take initiative in these regards we will have to face problems after 2026”.

“We have to reduce duties to negotiate FTA” said Tipu, adding “the NBR is thinking over the revenue loss”.

Principal Secretary to the prime minister, Ahmad Kaikaus, said, “Along with the export markets we also have to tap the potential of the local market”.

He averred that stakeholders and academia ought to operate in a united manner and face the upcoming challenges.

Planning Commission member Sharifa Khan and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry President Md Jashim Uddin, along with others, spoke at the session.


Article Source: NewAgeBD

Picture Source: ipleaders 

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