India and Bangladesh discuss ground work for trade pact, commit to deeper economic engagement
India & Bangladesh also talk about development of road and rail infrastructure
Signalling their intent to forge a deeper economic engagement, India and Bangladesh have commenced discussions on the ground work for the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two sides.
The matter was taken up at the 15th Meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG) between India and Bangladesh which was held in Dhaka on September 26-27, 2023.
According to information provided by India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Sunday (October 1, 2023), the 15th Meeting of JWG also discussed a host of other bilateral issues such as removal of port restrictions, harmonization and mutual recognition of standards, and supply of essential commodities to Bangladesh. Additionally, the two sides talked about development of road and rail infrastructure as well as regional connectivity through multi-modal transportation. Creation and strengthening of infrastructure in Land Customs Stations and Integrated Check Posts also figured in the discussions.
“The bilateral meeting successfully concluded with both countries reaffirming their commitment to deeper economic engagement, regional cooperation, and sustainable development. Both sides reiterated that the future holds great promise for enhanced trade relations and mutual prosperity,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.
The meeting was co-chaired by Joint Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, Vipul Bansal and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Noor Md. Mahbubul Haq.
The India-Bangladesh Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG) meetings held annually play an important role when it comes to discussing key trade-related issues and exploring opportunities for economic and technical collaboration, promotion, facilitation, expansion and diversification of trade between the two countries.
These meetings play a vital role in quick resolution of bilateral issues by removing trade barriers, simplifying customs procedures, improvement of infrastructure, logistics, and transit facilities to facilitate smoother cross-border trade, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had emphasized the importance of commercial links between the two nations when he met his Bangladeshi counterpart PM Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi on September 8, 2023, ahead of the G20 Summit over the weekend.
Talks between the two leaders covered a wide range of areas like connectivity and commercial linkage. "Had productive deliberations with PM Sheikh Hasina. The progress in India-Bangladesh relations in the last 9 years has been very gladdening. Our talks covered areas like connectivity, commercial linkage and more," Prime Minister Modi posted on X (formerly Twitter).
It is worth noting that several measures have been undertaken by both India and Bangladesh for facilitating trade between the countries. India has allowed exports from Bangladesh to India by rail in closed containers, with a customs clearance facility at any Inland Container Depot (ICD) after an official circular issued on May 17, 2022. During the JWG meeting, Bangladesh informed India about the successful commencement of the bilateral Agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Port (ACMP) and increasing the number of goods to be traded through various Land Custom Stations (LCSs).