Bangladesh to give duty free access to 108 Nepali products
KATHMANDU, Feb 19: Bangladesh has agreed to provide duty-free access to 108 Nepali goods, mainly farm products, and sought preferential treatment for 153 Bangladeshi products in Nepal.
The joint-secretary level technical meeting held between the two countries in Dhaka on Sunday finalized the list of products. The meeting was asked to finalize modalities to implement the agreement made during the commerce secretary meeting held in Kathmandu on July 30, 2012.
“Bangladeshi officials have handed us an offer list, agreeing to provide zero-tariff access to 108 Nepali products in their market. This will help boost our exports to Bangladesh in the coming days,” said Naindra Prasad Upadhyaya, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS), who led the Nepali trade delegation for the talks.
According to Upadhyaya, Bangladesh has agreed to provide preferential treatment to Nepali lentil, vegetables, cereals, wheat flour, fruits, juice, dairy and handmade papers, among others.
“We will finalize the modality on implementing the zero-tariff facility at the upcoming joint-secretary level meeting to be held in Kathmandu,” Upadhyaya told Republica.
He also said the modalities could be set through Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Nepal-Bangladesh Transit Treaty 1976 or any other bi-lateral agreement.
Bangladesh seeks duty-free access to 153 products
Dhaka agrees to implement on arrival visa for Nepalis
Operational modalities of two ports to be finalized in next meeting
The Nepali delegation, however, is yet to decide on providing duty-free access to 153 goods proposed by Bangladeshi officials. The South Asian neighbor has sought preferential treatment for fish products, pharmaceuticals, textiles and electrical goods, among others, in the Nepali market.
“We have received a list of products from Bangladeshi officials for duty-free access to Nepali market. We will finalize the list at the upcoming meeting as we need to do some homework before taking final decision,” he added.
Data compiled by the Trade and Export Promotion Center shows Nepal exported goods worth Rs 2.57 billion to Bangladesh in 2011/12, while Nepal imported goods worth Rs 8.09 billion from its second largest trading partner in South Asia in the same fiscal year. During the first half of the current financial year, Nepal´s exports to Bangladesh have increased remarkably by 63 percent to Rs 2.06 billion.
Both sides also held extensive discussion on the draft documents on operational modality of Chittagong and Mongla Ports, which are crucial for promoting trade between the two South Asian nations.
“Though we discussed in detail about the operational modalities as drafted by both the sides, we are yet to give finishing touch to it. We are also in the process of preparing the modality in line with the concept of the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC),” he further added.
The two countries are scheduled to finalize the modality in next meeting of joint secretaries.
Regarding the Kathmandu-Dhaka direct bus service which was agreed in principle by the commerce secretary level meeting, the two sides agreed to finalize the draft of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the service at the upcoming joint-secretary meeting after Nepal demanded more time to study the document.
Amid reports on denial of on arrival visas to Nepalis traveling to Bangladesh through land route, Bangladeshi officials assured the Nepali side that they would instruct immigration officials to ensure effective implementation of the facility.
At the secretary level meeting in Kathmandu, officials of the two countries had agreed to provide on arrival visas to each others´ citizens.
Nepali officials said Nepali travelers are facing difficulties in getting on arrival visa in the absence of immigration office in Banglabanda - the point to enter Bangladesh through land route.
At the Dhaka meeting, both sides also agreed to recognize quality certification issued by laboratories of both the countries for harmonization of quarantine under Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) regime.