Bangladesh and the European Union (EU) have agreed to form a joint committee to examine the challenges and opportunities in simplifying the customs clearance process for both express and non-express air cargoes.
Both sides also agreed to the removal of idle containers from the Chittagong Port, which is the largest gateway for Bangladesh's trade with the EU, on a fast-track basis in order to increase cargo-handling capacities.
In addition, approval would be issued for interchange of empty containers between Dhaka rail and river terminals.
The agreements were reached at the 7th plenary meeting under the EU-Bangladesh Business Climate Dialogue held in a city hotel on Thursday.
A joint statement issued after the meeting expressed the goal to jointly facilitate trade and investment from the EU - Bangladesh's number one trading partner and the second largest source of FDI to the country.
Bangladesh's exports to the EU amounted to around €16 billion in the 2021 calendar year, while the EU exports to Bangladesh were to the tune of €3 billion.
The plenary meeting was co-chaired by Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Tapan Kanti Ghosh and EU Ambassador Charles Whiteley.
EU Heads of Diplomatic Missions in Dhaka - Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden - attended the meeting.
Different government authorities, including the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Ministry of Shipping, National Board of Revenue (NBR) and Bangladesh Bank, and some representatives from the EU private sector also participated in the dialogue.
Both sides took stock of discussions in three priority fields: tax and customs, shipping and logistics, and green business practices.
The EU and Bangladesh agreed to work on improving health and safety situations in the Port.
Bangladesh also agreed a few months ago, as suggested by the EU, to launch a survey to assess the costs and benefits of up to 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bangladesh's logistics sector, said the joint statement.
The EU side informed the Bangladesh government about the upcoming supply chain due diligence requirements in Europe and encouraged adaptive actions with a view to ensuring smooth trade with the EU as the number one market for Bangladeshi exports.
The EU informed the meeting about the "EU-Bangladesh Meaning Business", which is conceived in the context of the 50th anniversary of the EU's diplomatic relations with Bangladesh, established in 1973.
"It aims to showcase commercial sectors which are underexplored and where closer collaboration between Bangladesh and Europe could be mutually beneficial," it said.
The EU also expressed its intention to establish a Eurocham in Bangladesh - a European Union (EU) Chamber of Commerce.
It aims to build bridges between the Bangladeshi and EU private sectors and serve as a centre of excellence connecting Bangladeshi public and private sectors with investors from Europe, to the benefit of smooth and sustained business relations between Bangladesh and the EU, the joint statement said.
The statement added that the EU would also help navigate Bangladesh's transition to a post-EBA trade regime in the EU.
Finally, the Heads of Mission expressed their desire to continue working constructively in improving trade and investment relations with Bangladesh.
The next plenary meeting is scheduled for the first semester of 2023.