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BD eyes FTAs with 23 countries

Commerce minister tells JS

FE REPORT | June 13, 2023 00:00:00

The government has completed feasibility studies on signing free trade agreements (FTAs) or preferential trade agreements (PTAs) with 23 countries, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi told the Jatiya Sangsad on Monday.

Primarily, steps have been taken to initiate negotiations on signing FTA with 10 countries and three regional blocs on priority basis, he said, responding to a question of Kazim Uddin, lawmaker from Mymensingh 11 constituency.

The countries are: India, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Japan, Singapore, USA, Canada, China and Malaysia.

To maintain the trade growth during the post-graduation period, the government is working on getting concessional market access to potential countries, the minister told the house.

He informed that the feasibility study was completed for signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India, and as per the recommendations of the study, both sides have decided to start negotiations on signing the CEPA.

The government also signed a MoU with China to conduct a joint feasibility study. China has granted duty-free market access for 98 per cent products or 8,930 items of Bangladesh with effect from September 1, the minister mentioned.

A Memorandum of Cooperation was also signed with Singapore in November last year to enhance trade and investment between the two countries, he said, adding that a similar process is ongoing with Japan. "Decisions have been made to start a joint feasibility study with Japan."

Responding to another question from lawmaker Mamunur Rashid Kiron, the commerce minister said Bangladesh's trade deficit with China stands at US$19,353 million.

Bangladesh exported goods worth $683 million to China in FY '22 while its imports from China stood at $20,720 million.

He also mentioned that in the same fiscal year the country's exports to India stood at $1,991 million against its imports worth $13,241.4 million.

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