India and Bangladesh have initiated discussions on preparations for the commencement of talks for a free trade agreement between the two nations to bolster economic relations, according to an official statement released on October 1.
The dialogue took place during an official-level meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG) between India and Bangladesh, which was held in Dhaka last week.
The Commerce Ministry disclosed that the meeting covered a range of bilateral matters, including the removal of port restrictions, groundwork for the launch of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), harmonization and mutual recognition of standards, as well as the supply of essential commodities to Bangladesh.
CEPA, a type of free trade agreement, involves a significant reduction or elimination of customs duties on a wide array of traded goods between two partners. It also includes the relaxation of regulations to promote trade in services and investments.
The discussions further encompassed topics related to the development of road and rail infrastructure, regional connectivity through multimodal transportation, and the establishment or enhancement of infrastructure in Land Customs Stations/Integrated Check Posts, as well as border-haats (markets).
These annual meetings serve as a crucial platform for addressing bilateral issues swiftly by removing trade barriers, simplifying customs procedures, enhancing infrastructure, logistics, and transit facilities to facilitate smoother cross-border trade.
Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $14.2 billion in 2022-23, down from $8.13 billion in the previous fiscal year.