16-member business delegation from Bengal visits Dhaka

Reporting on the outcome of the 16-Member Delegation of Bharat Chamber of Commerce to Dhaka, Bangladesh from 18th to 21st March, 2023, Mr. N. G. Khaitan, President observed that the authorities of the Government of Bangladesh with whom they interacted, demonstrated a lot of enthusiasm regarding the enhancement of trade and economic co‑operation between Bangladesh and West Bengal. The visit of the Delegation was based on a suggestion made by Mr. Tipu Munshi, Hon’ble Minister of Commerce of Bangladesh during his recent interactions with the members of the Chamber,  Mr. Khaitan added.


The President of the Chamber stated that trade and industry in Bangladesh are keenly looking forward to the culmination of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with India and commencement of the Rupee trade.


In this context, during the interaction of the members of Delegation with                   Mr. Tipu Munshi, Hon’ble Minister of Commerce, the Hon’ble Minister stated that both the countries are looking forward to a sustained trade relationship and avoid abrupt decisions on creation of tariff and non-tariff barriers.


Outlining one of the principal objectives for the visiting Delegation in facilitating bilateral trade, Mr. Khaitan stated that the Chamber has entered into a MoA with Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI). The first step in this direction is the decision to set up a ‘Bangladesh Desk’ at the Chamber’s premises and a reciprocal ‘India Desk’ at the BCI.



Highlighting the outstanding success of the Delegation, Mr. Khaitan stated that during the meeting with Mr. Ahmed Jamal, Hon’ble Deputy Governor, Joint Foreign Exchange Policy Department (FEPD), Bangladesh Bank, the Chamber has specially advocated for the Special Vostro Rupee Accounts (SVRAs) for settling payments in Indian Rupee with Bangladesh along with time frame management for Letter of Credit (LC) opening in Bangladesh. The Hon’ble Deputy Governor assured the policy support of the Bank in order to implement the same at the highest level for SVRA.


During the discussion of the Delegation with Hon’ble Minister of Railways           Mr. Md. Nurul Islam Sujan, he acknowledged the Government of India’s support for extension of three railway lines and routes between Bangladesh and India at different border access points for inter-border passage and business growth.  Regarding the involvement and participation at various projects including the ones funded under the Indian concessional Line of Credit (LoC), the Hon’ble Minister suggested that the Indian Government is in process of extending fresh line of credit for railway projects and wagon manufacturers can take advantage of the opportunities. The representative of Titagarh Wagons Limited assured the company’s full support in the pursuit of series of development programmes planned in the railway sector in Bangladesh.


Mr. Khaitan stated that during the discussions with the Hon’ble Minister of Commerce Mr. Tipu Munshi and other Government authorities, the Chamber highlighted that the Indian Jute Industry appreciates the relevance and importance of the jute sector in Bangladesh and conveyed their willingness to collaborate with their counterparts in Bangladesh for a win-win situation. In this regard, he clarified to the jute manufacturers in Bangladesh that the imposition of Anti-Dumping Duty on import of jute products from Bangladesh has been a contentious issue between the two countries over the last 6 to 7 years. A trade anomaly has emerged with cash subsidy ranging between 7.5 to 20 per cent being doled out by the Government of Bangladesh on exports of jute products into India and zero imposition of Customs Duty by India under the SAFTA Treaty. It was therefore necessary that the domestic Indian industry seek protection under necessary trade remedies for maintaining a level playing field through imposition of an Anti-Dumping Duty. Accordingly, this is not only affecting the Indian jute industry but also the Bangladesh jute industry at large and approximately USD 15 million annually is being financed by the Government of Bangladesh as the subsidy bill for jute goods exports made to India alone.


The Chamber President Mr. Khaitan stated that considering the assurance of the jute industry by the Indian Jute Mills Association for revoking the Anti-Dumping Duty in India, Mr. Tipu Munshi, Hon’ble Minister of Commerce and Mr. Md. Shahriar Alam, Hon’ble Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh assured to consider the removal of cash subsidies on exports of jute goods from Bangladesh, which would benefit the Jute Industry in both the countries.


Highlighting one of the direct outcomes of the visit, Mr. Khaitan stated that during the meeting with Mr. Shaikh Yusuf Harun, Executive Chairman Bangladesh Export Zones Authority (BEZA) and Mr. Lokman Hossain Miah, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), members of the Delegation have expressed their interest in investing particularly in animal feed, lead metal and light engineering sectors. He added that Lead Stone India, a member firm has entered into a business deal worth USD 500,000 in Lead Metal.


In the context of investments in the Economic Zones of Bangladesh, Mr. Khaitan stated that at the meeting with Ms. Zakia Sultana, Secretary, Ministry of Industries, Government of Bangladesh, members dealing with Coal and Power assured their full support for a steady supply of resources and prospective investments in the areas demarked for private players and development in the             P-P-P mode.


During the meeting with the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at the FBCCI office, President Md. Jasim Uddin said that Bangladesh is now emphasising on agro mechanisation and food processing. As India is one of the leading countries in agro machinery manufacturing sector, Indian agro machinery manufacturers should set up factories in Bangladesh and grab the market, Mr. Khaitan added.


Referring to the occasional ‘hiccups’ appearing between garments and cement manufacturers of India and Bangladesh, the Chamber’s President observed that since both the neighbours are self-sufficient and have surplus for exports, there is no reason why we cannot interact more frequently and resolve to penetrate into the global market with mutual understandings and mutual advantages.


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