Experts today hailed the signing of maiden bilateral Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Bhutan, saying it would help further explore the potentials of bilateral trade.
Bangladesh today entered into an era of duty-free bilateral trade through signing its maiden Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Bhutan which is expected to boost trade between the neighbouring countries.
Talking to BSS, country’s eminent economist and former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Salehuddin Ahmed said the signing of the first ever PTA is a good sign for the country’s economy.
He suggested the government to ink more PTAs and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with economically large countries for accelerating Bangladesh’s economy.
“Bhutan is a small country. We will have to sign more PTAs with economically large countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia,” he added.
The former central bank governor also urged the government to go to the regional blocks, like ASEAN, for increasing its negotiation capacity in this regard.
Talking to the national news agency, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) President Shams Mahmud said the signing of PTA with Bhutan would help explore further the potentials of the country’s real estate, ICT and light engineering sectors.
“Based on this PTA, we’ll have to make analysis and thus strike more PTAs and FTAs with countries like Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia,” Shams said, adding that those should be formulated and done in a scientific way.
Citing an example, he said if Bangladesh could penetrate the Australian and Latin American markets with products like readymade garments (RMG) by striking such trade deals, then those particular products would have a round the year market.
Mentioning that Vietnam has already signed FTA with the EU, the DCCI President opined that signing of PTAs and FTAs is very much important for a country like Bangladesh for successful LDC graduation, adding, “From now on, we’ll have to sign more PTAs and FTAs.”
International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) President Humayun Rashid welcomed the signing of PTA with Bhutan, terming it as a ‘milestone’ of the present government.
He said it would further boost the trade and commerce between the two neighboring nations.
“Bangladesh has signed its first ever PTA with Bhutan. The PTA which both sides signed today will accelerate the economic activities between the two countries,” he said.
Under this agreement, Rashid said, a wide range of products from Bangladesh and Bhutan can find duty-free entry into each other’s market which will accelerate the economic activities of both the countries.
As per provision of the PTA, the IBFB President said an additional list of products can be included in future through mutual consensus.
He also urged the government to take initiatives to sign such agreements with more countries, including the USA, the European Union and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.
The agreements with those countries will increase bilateral trade and will also play a big role to sustain the country’s economy after the graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in 2024, Humayun added.
Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and Bhutanese Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma inked the crucial instrument on behalf of their respective countries.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering witnessed the signing ceremony, joining the event virtually respectively from Ganabhaban in Dhaka and Thimphu in Bhutan.
Under the PTA, from now on some 100 Bangladeshi products will get duty-free access to the Bhutanese market, while 34 Bhutanese items will get the same facility in the Bangladeshi market.
The two neighboring countries will later be able to add more goods to the duty-free list through consultations.