China-Bangladesh discussed ways and means to promote cooperation on major projects and the negotiations on the free trade agreement (FTA)
To improve trade facility and export apparel items more, Bangladesh government recently seeks a duty-free market access in China.
Tofail Ahmed, Bangladesh Commerce Minister recently said at a press conference that Bangladesh currently exports 5,074 products to China, including ready-made garments. Already a Letter of Exchange (LoE) has been forwarded to China government regarding on the issue.
If China approves the LoE immediately, Bangladesh will enjoy exporting the duty-free benefit of 97 percent of the products under the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and reducing the current trade deficit.
Members of the WTO countries can also take advantage of the trade between themselves, he added.
According to his speech, under the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), Bangladesh has been enjoying duty benefits for 60 percent and 83 products in the Chinese market. This facility will be expired if Bangladesh gets direct tax and quota-free export advantage from China under LoE.
However, as an LDC, after getting direct duty-free benefits until 2027, Bangladesh again will be able to take those benefits. Because Bangladesh will not withdraw its membership from APTA.
The Minister added that China expressed her interest in Bangladesh with Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In this regard, the MoU has already been signed between the two countries. Now the FTA probability process is underway. After completing all formalities, Bangladesh will sign the FTA with China.
Bangladesh will be finally promoted from LDC to developing country in 2027. There will be no available GSP facility. FTA will take advantage of mutual trade. Large projects in Bangladesh are being implemented with China’s financial and technical support. These works are going on the private and G2G basis.
Addressing the good relation between China and Bangladesh Tofail Ahmed said that the China-Bangladesh Exhibition Center is being built on 35 acres of land in Purbachal, Dhaka with the help of China. Its construction will be completed within 2020. The Chinese government will bear the lion’s share of its total expenditure.
Zhang Zuo, the newly appointed Chinese Ambassador in Bangladesh informed that China gives the highest importance to Bangladesh. Commercial and economic relations between the two countries are excellent for a long time. China wants to introduce a new level of trade by signing the FTA with Bangladesh.
According to the commerce ministry, in a year Bangladesh imports more than US$ 10 billion worth of goods from China. They started providing tariff and quota-free access to LDC’s on 1 July 2010.
China is the largest trade partner of Bangladesh next to India as it is heavily trustful on fabrics, chemicals, and machinery. In the FY 2015-16, Bangladesh exported worth US$ 808.14 million to China and imported worth US$ 9645.80 million, which shows a huge trade gap. If China ensures duty-free, quota-free access of Bangladeshi items to enter their market, the gap may be reduced, said the ministry.
During the press conference, Shubhashish Bose, Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Md. Shafiqul Islam, Additional Secretary of the FTA branch were present.