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Final talks soon to boost trade: Indonesian envoy

BD-Indonesia free trade agreement

FE REPORT | October 08, 2020 00:00:00

Indonesian ambassador to Bangladesh Rina P Soemarno said negotiations on the Indonesia-Bangladesh free trade agreement (IBTA) will be finalised soon with changes in the tariff to boost bilateral business.

The third phase of the IBTA agreement, the first in Bangladesh's history, has been delayed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, she added.

"We're hopeful that within the coming months we will be able to formulate a constructive agreement either eliminating tariff or reducing it thus improving the bilateral trade between our nations."

Ms Soemarno said this during a virtual conference co-hosted by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) on October 05.

The conference styled 'Bilateral Trade and Investment Opportunities in the ongoing Global Pandemic and Beyond' discussed promotion of bilateral trade and investment for the benefits of the two countries.

"Although bilateral trade between the two nations has been gradually developing over time, we have yet to harness the full potential which can exceed the current value," said the envoy.

She said a three-day trade fair, which was organised in Bangladesh, alone generated millions of dollars of potential trade between the two nations.

FBCCI president Sheikh Fazle Fahim underscored potential growth through exploring bilateral value chain initiative (BVCI) in pharmaceuticals, agro, diversified jute goods, leather goods, energy and minerals.

"We hope that progress in the bilateral PTA with Indonesia will bolster our two-way trade," he added.

Mr Fahim said the ties between the two nations in the spirit of Muslim brotherhood have been marked by engagements in the OIC, D-8, ASEAN Regional Forum and Indian Ocean Rim Association.

He highlighted the FBCCI's initiatives entailing the 'FBCCI 2041' to bridge the industry-academia gap through global knowledge partnership for alternative dispute resolution, applied research, trade facilitation, policy advocacy, technology transfer, startup ecosystem, business process and STEAM-based skills.

"Comparing compliant markets and transitioning economies like Bangladesh's ROI makes us an attractive destination with IP protection in place for technology transfer," he said.

Me Fahim said the Indonesian investors with technology and knowledge transfer can tap into Bangladesh's production competitive edge, 160-million consumer base, 1.8-billion SAARC regional market and duty-free quota free (DFQF) market access to India, China, European Union, Canada, Australia and APTA.

KADIN Indonesia president Rosan Perkasa Roeslani said, "We're hopeful that the ongoing negotiations on the IBTA will be finalised soon with changes in the tariff to boost bilateral trade.

He said the Indonesian investors have also shown interest in joint initiatives in the energy, power, transportation, infrastructure and tourism sectors of Bangladesh that can be leveraged.

Bangladesh ambassador to Indonesia Maj Gen (retd) Azmal Kabir highlighted the potential of Indonesian investments in Bangladesh.

The bilateral trade between the two countries was $1.8 billion in fiscal year 2019-20.

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