Star Business Report, The Daily Star, April 21, 2008
The government is going to study Indian export subsidy as part of groundwork before it starts bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) talks with Delhi.
The commerce ministry yesterday sent a letter to the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi to make the assessment as soon as possible, ministry sources said.
Asked, a high official of the ministry confirmed the government will start negotiations with India after getting the export subsidy assessment results.
“Bangladesh needs to fix its strategy against Indian subsidised exports otherwise Bangladesh will lose its market,” Feroz Ahmed, commerce secretary, said.
He said the country will focus on the products that have been included in the Safta negative list.
Golam Moazzem, senior research fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue, said the country should focus on ‘Safta Plus’.
As the country has gained a little from many multilateral and regional deals the government should improve its two ways trade with major trading partners, he said.
The government earlier eyed bilateral free trade agreements with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar and China.
Many countries across the world are going for bilateral free trade agreements although they have many regional and multilateral trading agreements in place, Shishir Dev, a trade expert, said.
“The implementation process of bilateral free trade agreement is very simple and results of such agreement are very effective for which Bangladesh needs to consider signing FTA,” he added.
Bangladeshi import from India was recorded at US$21.10 billion in 2006-07 fiscal.
Bangladesh exported only $ 350 million goods to India in the same period.
An government expert on international trade negotiation said FTA has some risks for smaller countries as how long the special and differential treatments (S&D) remains under the FTA the smaller countries can gain but when it ends the big countries continue gaining alone.
Preferring anonymity, he said FTAs have some benefits like it provides for duty free entry for all goods except those included in a short negotiated negative list.