In order to
enhance trade, Bangladesh has associated with some Regional
Trade Agreements. Some Bilateral Trade Agreements (especially
with Pakistan, India and
Sri Lanka) are also in offing. The overviews of those
agreements are as follows:
Asia Pacific Trade
Bangkok Agreement was established in 1975. Member
countries are Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, China, the
Republic of Korea and Lao People’s Democratic
Republic. The Bangkok Agreement has recently been
revised and renamed as the Asia Pacific Trade
Agreement (APTA). The APTA has come into force from 1
July 2006. The APTA contains consolidated list of
tariff concessions granted by member countries to each
other. Under this agreement, China has provided 100%
tariff concessions to 83 items of Bangladesh at
8-digit level and Republic of Korea has provided 100%
tariff concessions to 139 items at 10-digit level.
3rd round of trade negotiations under this
preferential trading bloc was completed in 2006. The
4th round of preferential tariff negotiations has been
kicked off according to the decision of the 2nd
Ministerial Council held in Goa, India on 26 October
2007. In the 4th round tariff negotiations member
countries negotiating on exchange on tariff
concessions, Trade Facilitation, Trade in Services,
Investment and Rules of Origin. Bangladesh is
participating to the working groups on the framework
agreements on Trade Facilitation, Trade in Services,
Investment and Rules of Origin.
During the preferential tariff negotiations,
Bangladesh had bilateral meetings with China, South
Korea and Lao PDR. Bangladesh delivered the request
list on tariff concession to Lao PDR but Lao PDR did
not give any request list to Bangladesh. China offered
tariff concessions at 50% on 1058 tariff lines, which
they indicated will be applicable to all countries. In
this offer list, no special concessions were made to
LDCs. Bangladesh handed over its initial offer list to
China reserving the right to alter /modify it if need
be. The offer list of Bangladesh covered 78 products
with margin of preference ranging from 30% to 70%. The
Republic of Korea was not ready to exchange the offer
list and hence Bangladesh did not handed over the
offer list to Korea. It was agreed that Bangladesh and
South Korea will exchange their offer lists before the
thirty-second session of the Committee. Regarding the
exchange of request lists between the Bangladesh,
India and Sri Lanka, it was agreed in 30th session
that since Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka have been
reducing the tariffs under SAFTA, there would be no
necessary to exchange the tariff concessions among
these three countries under the APTA.
Under the 4th round of preferential tariff
negotiations six meetings were held. 34th Session of
APTA will be held in Bangkok on 31October-01 November
2009. It is mentionable that APTA ministerial council
is expected to be held on 15 December 2009 at Seoul.
Negotiating Committee (TNC) meeting
BIMSTEC Framework Agreement was signed in June 1997
and Agreement on FTA concluded in February 2004.
Member countries are Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri
Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. Under the
Agreement, in case of First Track products, non-LDCs
will open up their markets for the products of LDCs in
1 year and LDCs will do the same for non-LDCs in 5
years. On the other hand, for Normal Track products,
non-LDCs will open up their market for the products of
LDCs in 3 years and the LDCs will follow 10 year
schedule in order to open up their markets for the
products of non-LDCs. Least Developed Member Countries
of BIMSTEC FTA will enjoy special and differential
A BIMSTEC Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) has been
constituted to conduct negotiations on trade in goods,
trade in services and investment. The Committee has
undertaken negotiations on trade in goods, trade in
services and investment. The BIMSTEC FTA on trade in
goods was scheduled to enter into force from 1 July
2006. Negotiations on trade in goods are yet to be
completed due to divergence in opinion. It has already
held 18 meetings. The 19th meeting of BIMSTEC Trade
Negotiating Committee (TNC) is expected to be held in
India 17-19 November 2009.
Trading Arrangement (SAPTA)
promote and sustain mutual trade and the economic
cooperation among the SAARC countries through
exchanging concessions on trade measures SAARC
Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) was signed in
11th April 1993 and operationalized in December 1995
to give limited preferential market access to exports
of member countries. Since 1995 there were four rounds
of negotiation for tariff concessions, the last of
which was completed in December 2002. Negotiations
were confined solely to the issue of tariff cuts. The
issue of para-tariff and non-tariff measures was left
out altogether. The member countries of the Agreement
are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, India, Pakistan,
Nepal and Sri Lanka. The basic principle of SAPTA was:
SAPTA shall be based on the principle of
overall reciprocity and mutuality of
advantages in such a way as to benefit
equitably all contracting states taking into
account their respective levels of economic
and industrial development, the pattern of
their external trade, trade and tariff
SAPTA shall be negotiated step by step,
improved and extended in successive stages
with periodic review.
The least developed contracting states shall
favourable preferential treatment.
SAPTA shall include all products, manufactures
Negotiations were conducted on
product-by-product basis (positive list
approach). Concessions offered in the first
SAPTA round were very modest. Only 226 products
at HS 6-digit level were conceded in that round
but the number of products offered concession
accelerated in the second and the third rounds.
At the end of the fourth round, a total of 6243
tariff line concessions were exchanged, of which
3942 were exclusively for the four LDCs –
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal, as
against 2301 for non-LDC members. The LDCs thus
received relatively more favourable treatment in
the exchange of tariff concessions. The depth of
tariff concession offered to LDC members ranged
between 5 and 100 percent. Tariff cuts offered
by India were the deepest, varying between
The SAPTA rules of origin require non-LDC
members to input at least 40 percent local
material content. LDC members are required to
input at least 30 percent.
The Agreement on South
Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)
Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) was
signed on 6 January 2004 in Islamabad. SAFTA has
entered into force from 1st January 2006 after
completion of national ratification by all member
countries. Tariff reduction under SAFTA has started
from 1 July 2006. The member countries of the
Agreement are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan,
Maldives, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
All member countries maintain a sensitive list.
Products appearing in the sensitive lists will not
enjoy tariff concessions. The sensitive lists of
Bangladesh contain 1254 items for Non-LDCs and 1249
items for LDCs. The sensitive list of India contains
868 items for Non-LDCs and 480 items for LDCs; the
list of Pakistan contains 1169 items, the list of Sri
Lanka 1065 items, the list of Nepal 1299 items, the
list of Maldives 671 items, the list of Afghanistan
1072 and the list of Bhutan 157 items.
Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka will bring down their
tariff to 0-5 % for LDCs in 3 years. Such tariff
reduction will be done by LDCs in 10 years. Tariff
reduction (0-5%) will be accorded to those items which
do not appear in the sensitive lists.
The general criterion of SAFTA Rules of Origin is CTH
(Change of Tariff Heading) + 40% value addition for
Non-LDCs and CTH + 30% value addition for LDCs. There
is also a product specific rule for 191 items where
general criterion does not apply. Under regional
cumulation rules of SAFTA, there is the provision of
value addition criterion only. In this case, the
regional value addition is 50%, of which 20% has to be
in the final exporting country.
India has provided to LDCs duty free market access to
all products under SAFTA (excepting the products
retained in their sensitive list) which has come into
effect from 1 January 2008. Recently India has offered
duty free tariff preferences (DFTP) scheme for all 50
LDCs. Bangladesh is considering the proposal of
signing the letter of intent. Bangladesh may thank
India for providing duty free access of 8 (eight)
million pieces of apparel articles in one calendar
year covered under the SAFTA Sensitive List of India
without any conditionalities of sourcing of fabrics or
port restrictions under a Memorandum of Understanding
Signed between The Government of the People’s Republic
of Bangladesh & The Government of Republic of India on
16 September 2007.
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will extend technical
assistance to LDC members for development of
trade-related capacity. The technical assistance will
be in the forms of training, study, seminar, workshop,
export promotion projects, product development, trade
policy formulation, etc.
• 3rd SAFTA COE and 3rd SAFTA Ministerial Council
meeting was held in New Delhi on 1-2 and 3 March 2008
respectively. Bangladesh delegation took part in the
SAFTA COE meeting and honourable advisor for commerce
attended the ministerial council meeting. Bangladesh
position was firmed up through an inter-ministerial
meeting held on 18 February 2008 under the
chairmanship of Secretary Ministry of Commerce.
• Protocol of accession of Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan to Agreement on South Asian Free Trade
Area was signed during the 15th SAARC Summit held in
Colombo on 2-3 August 2008 and a summary was sent to
the cabinet committee on 15.10.08 for post facto
approval and ratification of the protocol. The cabinet
committee approved the approval and ratification
proposal of the protocol on 26 October 2008 and this
decision has been communicated to Ministry of Foreign
affairs for onward transmission to SAARC Secretariat.
• The 5th SAFTA COE and 4th Expert Group meeting on
SAARC Framework Agreement on Trade in Services (SAFAS)
followed by SAFTA Ministerial council will be held in
Nepal on 24-28 October 2009.
Agreement on Trade in Services (SAFAS)
south Asian trading bloc SAFTA has attempted to expand
its coverage through inclusion of trade in services in
to the agreement. As per decision of the 13th SAARC
Summit held in Dhaka in 2005 &14th SAARC Summit held
in New Delhi in 2007 and SAFTA Ministerial Council a
regional Study on Potential for Trade in Services
under SAFTA Agreement was conducted by the Research
and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS),
India with the inputs from National experts of each
SAARC countries. The Study report was submitted at the
Third meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council held in
March 2008, which requested the RIS to draft an
Agreement on Trade in Service under SAARC and
established an Expert Group on Trade in Service.
The RIS submitted the Draft Agreement in August 2008
and the Expert Group held its first meeting in
November 2008. In the draft Agreement on Trade in
Service contains Preamble and 33 Articles. Most of the
Articles are similar to GATS Agreement. So far, two
rounds of negotiations were concluded. The First
Meeting of the Expert Group on SAARC Framework
Agreement on Trade in Services was held at the SAARC
Secretariat, Kathmandu, Nepal on 6-7 November 2008 and
second meeting was held at the same venue on 20-21
January 2009. The next Meeting of the Expert Group on
SAARC Framework Agreement on Trade in Services will be
held on 24-25 October 2009 at the SAARC Secretariat,
Bilateral FTA with
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
inter-ministerial meeting was held to firm up
Bangladesh's position regarding bilateral FTA with
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka under the chairmanship
of honourable Commerce adviser in August 2008. Along
with other decisions, it was decided that a Core group
will be formed headed by CEO of BFTI Dr. Mohammad Ali
Taslim with representatives from different relevant
stakeholders. The committee has already submitted its
report to Secretary, MoC recently.
Standing Committee for
Economic and Trade Cooperation (COMCEC)
along with fifty seven (57) countries is the
members of OIC.
Standing Committee for Economic and Trade
Cooperation (COMCEC) was established in
pursuant to the resolution adopted by the 3rd
Islamic Summit Conference held in Makkah, the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in January 1981.
The committee was given the mandate to follow
up the implementation of Islamic resolution in
the economic and trade fields, explore
possible means of strengthening cooperation
between Islamic countries, and prepare
programmes and proposals for improving
capacities of Islamic states'.
COMCEC was established to expand intra-OIC
trade. In this direction, Framework Agreement
on Trade Preferential System among the OIC
Member Countries (TPS-OIC) was finalized in
1990. Bangladesh signed the Agreement in 1997
and ratified it in 2004.
System Among the OIC Members (TPS-OIC)
launched First Round on Trade Negotiations
under TPS-OIC in April 2003.
First Round was concluded in November 2005
with finalization of a protocol on
Preferential Tariff Schemes for TPS-OIC (PRETAS).
Bangladesh signed TPS-OIC (PRETAS) on 26th
The Ratification Process of the TPS-OIC (PRETAS)
is in Progress.
Presently COMCEC is working on Trade
Preferential Scheme which is known as TPS-OIC.
Agreement (PTA) among D-8 Countries (D-8)
known as Developing-8, is an arrangement for
development cooperation among the member
countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran,
Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
D-8 was officially established by the Summit
of Heads of State/Government in Istanbul on
June 15, 1997 (Istanbul Declaration). The
objectives of D-8 are to improve positions of
the developing countries' in the world
economy, diversify and create new
opportunities in trade.
Bangladesh signed Preferential Trade Agreement
(PTA) Among D-8 Countries in 2006.
Presently Rules of Origin (RoO) of D-8 PTA and
its Operational Certification Procedures (OCP)
negotiations are in progress. Bangladesh has
submitted its product list for D-8 PTA to the
Secretary General of D-8 Countries.
negotiating for special and differential
treatment as Least Developed Country (LDC)
under this agreement.
Trade Institute (BFTI)
Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) was
set up as a national trade policy think tank
with pubic - private partnership in May 2003.
The objective is to professionalize foreign
trade management and promote exports by
generating, analyzing and disseminating data,
and conducting training and research.
BFTI is an independent, research-led,
non-political and not-for-profit institution.
The Board of Directors is comprised of the
public and the private sector institutes.
Hon’ble Minister of Commerce is the Chairman
of the Board of Directors.
The Institute is working as a think tank
providing research support to the Government
and Private Sector on International Trade
issues for the Negotiation on bilateral,
regional and multilateral trade. Activities
shall also encompass in providing training to
public as well as private sector officials,
Businessmen and professionals. It also
provides information and advice to Ministry of
Commerce on WTO Agreements and formulation of
At the onset Ministry of Commerce put in 2.3
crore taka as an endowment fund and the
private sector bodies e.g. FBCCI, BGMEA
contributed 95 lakh taka to the fund.
on issues that influence the international
competitiveness of developing and transition
The objective is to contribute to effective
decision making on export development
ITC provides Technical Assistance Bangladesh
and other developing countries.
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
The mandate of UNCTAD is to help the
developing countries on the trade related
issues. UNCTAD cooperation is focused on
It organizes training courses for the trade
negotiators and academia to enhance knowledge
about international trade policy and WTO
agreements. 12th session of UNCTAD was held in
Accra, Ghana 20-25 April, 2008.
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
UNESCAP is the regional UN organization in
Asia and the Pacific operates in trade and
investment with the purpose to promote
regional economic cooperation.
It is carried out through a combination of
multi-stakeholder and government-to-government
policy dialogues, research and analysis,
advisory services and training.
benefit from capacity building services in the
development areas of UNESCAP, such as, Poverty
Reduction, Environment and sustainable
development and Information and Communication.
Development Agency (CIDA)
Ministry of Commerce signed a protocol with
CIDA titled “MOC-CIDA Trade Related Technical
Assistance” in 2004.
Under this agreement CIDA provides equipment,
website for the ministry. CIDA also provided
training to the officials of MOC on trade
negotiation and trade related issues.
Commercial Cooperation Agreement between EC
and Bangladesh was signed on May, 2000 and
Bangladesh -EC Joint Commission (JEC) was
formed under article 12 of the agreement.
Bangladesh has excellent bilateral trade
relationship with EU member countries. Our
total export to EU countries is increasing
significantly over the years.
EC supported Bangladesh in the areas of Trade
Capacity Development. The projects funded by
EC are: (a) Bangladesh Trade Support Programme
(7.8 million Euros), (b) Small Project
Facilities (SMF) (3 million Euros). (c)
Quality Support Programme (10 million Euros).
EC is supported
Bangladesh Trade Policy Support Programme
which is expected to commence from in 1 July
2009. The project components are: component-1:
Ministry of Commerce, component-2: Bangladesh
Foreign Trade Institute, component-3: Export