India, Bangladesh commit to strengthening bilateral relations

New Delhi, Sep 26 (UNI) A bilateral meeting was held in Dhaka on Wednesday between Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and his counterpart in Bangladesh, Tofail Ahmed and the two ministers reiterated their commitment to further strengthen the bilateral relations on the basis of friendship, trust and understanding for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.

Prabhu began his three-day official trip to Bangladesh from October 24.

The two ministers noted the significant progress made in the bilateral relationship under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. They reiterated their commitment to further strengthen the bilateral relations on the basis of friendship, trust and understanding for the mutual benefit of the people of Bangladesh and India.

Prabhu and Ahmed discussed a number of trade, investment and connectivity related matters of interest.

These include a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, Border Haats, improvement of infrastructure and operations of Land Customs Stations on the Bangladesh – India border, recognition of test certificates, anti-dumping measures and port restrictions.

Considering the vision of Bangladesh to become a middle income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041, both Ministers agreed that a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) covering goods, services and investment would provide a sound basis for substantial enhancement of trade and commercial partnership. They directed their officials to undertake a joint study on the prospects of entering into a bilateral CEPA.

Both Ministers agreed to expedite the constitution of a Bangladesh – India CEO Forum for providing policy level inputs relating to trade and investment issues under different sectors of interest such as jute, textiles, energy, pharmaceuticals, information technology, etc. The Forum could convene sectoral sub groups to deliberate on specific issues concerning each sector.

Prabhu invited Bangladesh’s participation in the Partnership Summit, to be organised by India in January 2019, as a Partner Country. Mr Prabhu also offered to organise a joint investment summit in India in October – November 2018, focused on bilateral investments and invited Ahmed to participate in the summit, along with a business delegation drawn from identified sectors of interest to which he agreed to consider.

Ahmed also requested that Indian investors be encouraged to utilise the facilities being offered by the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA).

In the context of a number of new initiatives being taken by both India and Bangladesh in various sectors, both Ministers agreed to establish a mechanism such as a joint multi-disciplinary group for sharing of best practices for mutual benefit.

Ahmed requested to address the issue of anti-dumping duty levied on import of jute goods and other products from Bangladesh to India. In response, Prabhu conveyed that the concerns of the relevant exporters would be taken into consideration during the investigations. He also suggested that a meeting between the Jute industry of the two countries could be organised to find the way forward on resolving the issue.

Both sides agreed for early finalisation of MoU under consideration, aimed at capacity building of Bangladesh officials in issues related to trade remedies. Both sides also agreed to consider an MoU between Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) and Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) for capacity building of trade officials and stakeholders, including joint training in either country.

The two countries agreed to arrange industry-specific interactions among the respective stakeholders to enhance business to business cooperation and utilise inherent advantages of both countries towards a larger share of the global value chains relating to pharmaceuticals, leather, jute and textiles sectors.

Both Ministers agreed to fast-track the completion of six new Border Haats which are under construction and identification of locations for six additional Border Haats, including Dalu-Nakugaon in Sherpur district proposed by Bangladesh in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the Meghalaya Government by the Indian side.

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