Renewal with no amendment
Bangladesh and India yesterday agreed to renew the bilateral trade agreement, which expires on March 31 this year, for three years without any amendment, said sources.
The two countries are also expected to extend by two years the agreement to use each other's inland waterways for trade, which too expires on March 31.
The decisions were taken at a two-day meeting between the commerce secretaries of the two countries at the Udyog Bhavan, which houses the Indian commerce ministry.
A formal announcement of the two decisions is expected on the second and final day of the meeting between Commerce Secretaries Golam Hussain of Bangladesh and Rahul Khullar of India with a joint statement.
The existing trade agreement between the two countries, which had gone into force April 1 in 2009, will be renewed through a Letter of Exchange. Bangladesh apparently wanted to renew the trade accord for only six months, pending further discussions on some contentious issues.
The two countries yesterday also discussed the issue of tariff and non-tariff barriers in the way of boosting bilateral trade and setting up four more border haats on either side of the demarcation with northeastern state of Tripura.
The issue of standardisation norms of the two countries also came up in the meeting. . India has already accepted the certification of products by Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution.
However, India raised the issue against using a certain chemical in dyeing jamdani saris, which reportedly causes skin problem but it is to be examined by Indian Standard Institution, sources said.
The commerce secretary level meeting was held after a gap of more than eight years with the previous one being held in 2003 in New Delhi.
India-Bangladesh trade is currently heavily skewed in favour of India, as exports from Bangladesh have long been restricted due to Bangladesh's narrow manufacturing base and imposition of numerous non-tariff and para-tariff barriers by India.
The trade gap was $4.57 billion in 2010-11, according to the data of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) of Bangladesh.
After the meeting between the two commerce secretaries, Hussain called on Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.
During the meeting, Sharma listed various steps taken by India to give tariff concessions under SAFTA to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in SAARC and reiterated New Delhi's commitment to expand the facility.