Removal of non-tariff barriers to promote regional trade stressed

Financial Express, Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 18, 2013

Speakers at a dialogue Wednesday underscored the need for removing non-tariff barriers and development of infrastructure to speed up regional trade in South Asian (SA) countries.

They also urged the government to form a taskforce to address the issues relating to trade barriers in this region.

Unnayan Shamannay, Bangladesh and CUTS-International, India jointly organised the public-private dialogue on ‘Promoting Participatory Approaches for Removing Regional Trade Barriers in South Asia’ at the National Press Club in the city.

The speakers also alleged that there were a lot of expectations about trade promotion from both sides — Bangladesh and India during two Prime Minister’s visit in the two countries but no significant result in this respect is yet in sight.

Commerce Minister Ghulam Muhammed Quader, MP, addressing the dialogue as chief guest said the Commerce Ministry has been working relentlessly with other SA countries including India to resolve the issues.

He said they had already resolved the tariff barriers with India in most cases and working to solve the other problems considered as trade barriers.

“The non-tariff barriers will also be removed through continuous dialogue and discussion with the neighbouring countries. The Commerce Ministry and FBCCI (Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry) are working with India to lessen the barriers,” he added.

The Commerce Minister said they are working not only with India but also with other regional countries to remove the barriers.

“We are working with different regional bodies to promote trade in the SA countries like SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) and BIMSTEC (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka,Thailand Economic Cooperation). And we are also working with BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) Regional Coopration to strengthen the bilateral relations with China, Myanmar and India,” he mentioned.

Emeritus Fellow of Unnayan Shamannay Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled emphasised on forming a taskforce to remove the non-tariff barriers.

“There are a lot of discussions going on but the rate of implementation is very low because of lack of coordination. We should have a taskforce combining Commerce Ministry, National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the trade bodies,” he added.

Senior Research Fellow of BIDS (Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies) Dr Nazneen Ahmed, United International University Professor Dr AK Enamul Haque, Project Coordinator of Unnayan Shamannay Shaheen Ul Alam, officials of the Asia Foundation Syed A Al-Muti and deputy executive director of CUTS-International, India addressed the dialogue among others.

Senior Research Fellow of BIISS (Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies) Dr Mahfuz Kabir presented the keynote at the dialogue.

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