Bangladesh to revise list of duty free products

- RAJESH KHANAL, Kathmandu

Jun 2, 2018-

 Bangladesh has agreed to revise the list of Nepali products that enjoy duty free access to the country. Nepal in turn has also given the green light to revise the list of Bangladeshi goods that are receiving preferential treatment in local market.

Bangladesh has been providing duty free access to 108 Nepali products that are available in the country Nepal has been urging Bangladesh to expand the list to cover major exportable items such as tea, coffee, large cardamom, broom, fresh fruits, kattha and pashmina among others. The items not covered by duty free access were having difficulty getting into Bangladesh. Bangladesh has shown positive signs over Nepal’s proposal during the fourth commerce secretary-level trade talks that started in Kathmandu on Wednesday. According to Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, both countries have agreed to revise the modality.

“We have agreed to review the list of 50 Bangladeshi goods receiving preferential treatment in Nepal while Bangladesh is also willing to provide duty free access for specified Nepali goods,” the ministry’s Spokesperson Rabi Shankar Sainju said.

According to Sainju, both sides have agreed to revise the lists through retaining the norm of the World Trade Organisation. “We have agreed in principle to extend the facilities in Harmonised System code of six digits instead of the code of eight digits previously,” said Sainju adding that the six digits Harmonised System code covers a large number of goods that falls in the category. Nepal had forwarded an 18 point agenda to Bangladeshi delegates led by Commerce Secretary of Bangladesh Shubhashish Bose. According to the ministry, Bangladesh is also willing to allow Nepali traders access to the Rohonpur-Sighbad rail transit corridor to transport goods imported from third countries.

“The bilateral agreement has maintained that Nepal will develop the letter of exchange to fix the modality which will be addressed through revising the bilateral trade-treaty,” Sainju said. “Provided the operation comes online, Nepali traders can bring in third country imports through the Bangladeshi port via railway service.”

Bangladesh has also expressed its consent on allowing Nepali trucks to ferry up to Mongla port of Chittagong. At present, Nepali shipments have access up to Banglabandha. Bangladesh had opened the gateway of Kakarbhitta-Phulbari-Banglabandha transit route for Nepali shipments in 1997.

Likewise, Bangladesh has also opened Nepali acrylic yarn to be transported to Bangladesh via Bangalabandh. For more than three years, Bangladesh has been allowing Nepali traders to dispatch their shipments of acrylic yarn through Chittagong. Similarly, Bangladeshi delegates are reciprocative to the idea of allowing Nepali aviation sector to use either Saiyadpur-Bhadrapur or Saiyadpur-Biratnagar air routes. “The delegates have promised to take the proposal to the concerned authority of Bangladesh,” Sainju said.

Preparing a draft of Bilateral Investment Agreement as an alternative to Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), signing memorandum of understanding between Salt Trading Corporation with the parallel state owned organisation of Bangladesh to promote the trade at the state-level and promoting the trading of goods via participation in trade fairs are among consents that both the countries have reached through the bilateral agreement.

Bangladesh however has expressed its reservation when it comes to allowing Nepalis to get on-arrival visa in the Saarc country. At present, Bangladeshi authorities have been issuing on-arrival visa to selective Nepali visitors including high level government officials, who travel enter the country via the air route. However, for Nepali people who travel to Bangladesh via the land route need to apply for the visa in advance.

According to the ministry, Bangladesh is reluctant to grant on-arrival visa facility at Banglabandh stating that there was no online system and related infrastructure at its immigration office based in Banglabandh. Meanwhile, Bangladesh is keen to invest in Nepal’s hydropower sector. “We have assured Bangladeshi delegates to forward their proposal to concerned government authority including Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation,” Sainju added.

Bangladesh has also expressed its interest to co-promote tourism between the two countries through concept of ‘Highest Peak to Longest Beach.’ In response, both the countries have agreed to promote tourism through signing memorandum of understanding between the concerned tourism authorities.

Published: 02-06-2018 08:40

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