India and Bangladesh will soon finalise a joint study on the prospects of entering into a bilateral free trade agreement, which aims at further strengthening economic ties between the countries, the commerce ministry said on Saturday.
The Commerce Secretary level meeting between India and Bangladesh was held in New Delhi on 4th March 2022. The Indian delegation was led by Commerce Secretary, Government of India, Shri B.V.R. Subrahmanyam and the Bangladesh delegation was led by Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh, Mr. Tapan Kanti Ghosh.
Both sides held extensive discussions on a variety of issues of mutual interest, including development of railway infrastructure, port infrastructure, Joint Study on Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), Border Haats, Regional connectivity through Multi-Modal Transportation, Harmonization of Standards, Mutual Recognition Agreement.
Of the many issues discussed, progress on the following agenda items was appreciated by the delegation of both countries:
- Significant growth in the bilateral trade between the two countries in recent years -Bangladesh is the 6th largest trade partner of India.
- For facilitation of trade between India-Bangladesh through railways
a) For developing container handling facility at Sirajganj Bazar a Detailed Project Proposal (DPP) approved.
b) For running freight trains between India-Bangladesh, 900 metre new siding line constructed at Benapole.
c) For allowing import of all commodities from India by rail via Darsana, the construction of loading and unloading platform completed at Darshana.
d) For development of Rail and Road based ICD at Ishwardi, the DPP approved.
- Consensus over the use of returning empty railway wagons/containers by Bangladesh - this would reduce overall logistics cost of India's exports to Bangladesh.
- Border Haats – the ones closed due to covid restriction would be opened soon
- 24x7 operationalization of Petrapole-Benapole Integrated Check Post (ICP) to be implemented soon
- Substantive progress made on ICP /Land Customs Stations
- Regional connectivity through multi-modal transport to be strengthened between the two countries.
- CEPA study to be finalized at the earliest
- CEO forum to have the first meeting soon
The meeting was preceded by the 14th meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Trade, at the level of Joint/Additional Secretaries of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt of India and Ministry of Commerce, Govt of Bangladesh on 2-3 March 2022 in New Delhi. Comprehensive discussions were held on various areas of mutual interest.
It was agreed that the next meetings of the JWG and Commerce Secretaries will be held in Bangladesh, at mutually convenient dates.
BDST: 2107 HRS, MAR 05, 2022