West indian countries

CEPA will be a win-win for both countries

May 31, 2022, 11:15 p.m.

Last modification: May 31, 2022, 11:17 p.m.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman. Illustration: TBS


Professor Mustafizur Rahman. Illustration: TBS

We already have various initiatives with India on improving trade, investment and connectivity. We have signed three line of credit agreements with him. We have dedicated two economic zones to Indian investors.

Efforts are also being made to establish sub-regional cooperation with India, Nepal and Bhutan and we have signed the BBIN agreement on motor vehicles. We have a coastal shipping agreement with India and are establishing a rail link with it.

I believe that now is a very good time to deepen our bilateral relations. Signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) can be a win-win situation for both countries as such an agreement covers trade, investment, connectivity, logistics and various policy coordination issues.

We must bear in mind that India is now unilaterally granting us a zero duty facility in its market. But once we sign CEPA, we will have to move from non-reciprocity to reciprocity. In this case, if there is a two-pronged policy for Bangladesh, as a relatively weaker economy, in terms of trade liberalization, tariff liberalization, ensuring compliance under CEPA, it will be better for us.

Not only tariff adjustment or tariff reduction through CEPA, we also need to focus on how we can boost our investments in the North East region of India and attract Indian investors to our economic zones specials.

In particular, it would be good for us if we could attract Indian investment to our economic zones and target the Indian market, enjoying the benefit of zero tariffs.

India has competitive advantages over us in services, IT and software. If we can improve our collaboration with them in these areas, our service exports to the country will increase.

If we can achieve Indian standards through our mutual initiative and with the help of the South Asian Regional Organization for Standardization, we can sign a Mutual Recognition Agreement with neighboring India to solve the existing problems, such than anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

Our trade with India is mainly through land ports. Thus, we can maximize the gains of CEPA by building an integrated customs system as well as system interoperability and a single window in land ports.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman is an Emeritus Member, CPD

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