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India and Bangladesh discuss preparations to start talks for free trade agreement

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NEW DELHI : India and Bangladesh have discussed preparations to start talks for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries to promote economic ties, an official statement said on Sunday.

It was discussed during an official-level meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG) between India and Bangladesh, which was held last week in Dhaka.

The meeting “discussed a host of bilateral issues such as removal of port restrictions, ground work on commencement of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), harmonization of standards, and mutual recognition of standards, supply of essential commodities to Bangladesh,” the commerce ministry said.

CEPA is a kind of free trade agreement, under which two trading partners significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them. Besides, they also ease norms to promote trade in services and investments.

They also deliberated upon issues related to the development of road and rail infrastructure, regional connectivity through multi-modal transportation and the creation/ strengthening of infrastructure in Land Customs Stations/ Integrated Check Posts, and border haats.

These meetings are held on an annual basis to discuss key trade-related issues and explore 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,” it said.

The bilateral trade has dipped to USD 14.2 billion in 2022-23, from USD 18.13 billion in 2021-22.

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