India to Lift Duty on 61 Items
Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Delhi has assured Dhaka of exempting some Bangladesh products from import duty.

Commerce minister Faruk Khan said that as a result, 61 items including textiles and leather goods will be exempted from taxes for entry into India.

Speaking at a press meet at the Secretariat on Tuesday, the minister said that he had held talks with his Indian counterpart Ananda Sharma and that he had urged for removal of 61 items from the 'negative' list.

"India has assured us that it would agree to the request very soon," he added.

Khan also said that 47 of the items were readymade garment products.

Reducing the number of Bangladeshi items from India's 'negative' list has been under discussion for quite a while. India has provided tax-free entrance for 8 million pieces of Bangladeshi readymade garments as a part of the process.

"Tax free entry of 61 products would be of more benefit than the exemption of 8 million pieces," Khan added.

Bangladesh has exported goods worth $304 million to India and imported goods valued at $3.213 billion in 2009-10FY.

Khan expressed his hope that Bangladeshi exports to India will grow with duty free access.

About Indian assurance on cotton import in Bangladesh, the commerce minister said Bangladesh imports 5.5 million bales every year — four million bales from Uzbekistan and one million from India.

"We have requested India for exporting two million bales of cottons next year. The Indian commerce minister has assured us of exporting 1.1 million bales."

India suspended cotton exports in April this year. But it will resume in November.

Faruk said that the government had already signed an agreement with India on introducing border bazaars from next February, which will be initially operated at Lawaghar in Sunamganj and at Bajitpur in Kurigram.

The bazaars will be set up on 75 square meters along the border every Saturday between 10am and 3pm. No passports will be required for visiting the bazaars. People will have to take permission from their respective governments, however.

The minister said the bazaars would help curb smuggling.

Four more MOUs were signed between Bangladesh and India during the commerce minister's visit to India. Of them three were signed with the Tata group.

"Tata wants to study the feasibility of assembling Tata pickups in Bangladesh and production of retail parts of Tata vehicles used in Bangladesh. It also wants to open driving schools."

Indian SRS Group and Bangladeshi Uttara Packing have also signed an MOU on setting up a joint packaging factory in Bangladesh.

Both the countries have decided that trucks of both countries can enter 200 meters inside their borders.

Faruk said that Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI) may get accreditation from India by December.

The commerce minister also said they had a discussion on accelerating the import of 300,000 tonnes of rice and 200,000 tonnes of wheat.


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