Non-tariff barriers hurt multilateral trade | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 14, 2012

Non-tariff barriers hurt multilateral trade

GM Quader speaks on Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement

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GM Quader, commerce minister, speaks at a seminar on Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement: Business Implications for Bangladesh, co-organised by the commerce ministry, UNESCAP and ICC Bangladesh yesterday. Mahbubur Rahman, president of ICCB; ATM Murtozza Reza Chowdhury, additional secretary of the commerce ministry; and Ravi Ratnayake, director of UNESCAP, were also present. Photo: ICC

Multilateral trade agreements with export destinations are not yielding desired results due to non-tariff barriers, said Commerce Minister GM Quader yesterday.
Although trade among the member countries of Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), formally the Bangkok Agreement, has increased, Bangladesh's gain from the pact is not clear-cut.
However, the ministry is looking at ways to maximise the benefits from such agreements, Quader said at a seminar on APTA business implications for Bangladesh.
The economic and political relations will develop if multilateral trade with neighbours increases, said Quader.
He added that the least developed countries should work together to achieve win-win outcomes from multilateral trade agreements.
ICC President Mahbubur Rahman said Bangladesh's trade data with D-8 and BIMSTEC, SAFTA and APTA countries show that there has not been any gain; in fact the total deficit is increasing.
While APTA has the potential to promote regional integration, it has yet to bear any fruit for small countries such as Bangladesh, he added.
He said the export share of Bangladesh of the total APTA members is only 3.2 percent, with the import share being 32.2 percent.
Considering the situation, he urged the minister to reassess the purpose of such multilateral agreements.
“The least developed countries are affected by the global recession. So we should strengthen our trade relations with fastest growing countries,” said Ravi Ratnayake, director of UNESCAP's trade and investment division.
He observed that there is a lack of awareness about the benefits of APTA among the relevant stakeholders, particularly, the business sector.
To address the issue, APTA Business Network was launched last July to educate people on the benefits of the treaty, Ratnayake said.
He emphasised the need to diversify the export products, reduce dependency on USA and EU, and take full advantage of the APTA member states regarding concession.

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