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Bilateral FTA's favoured over multilateral initiatives
Aug '08
The Government took an important decision in a high level meeting recently, which was attended by senior officials and trade experts. The authorities decided that the country will start negotiations with India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for bi-lateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The meeting was chaired by Hossain Zillur Rahman, Commerce Adviser of the working Government. Bangladesh has favoured multilateral trade deals over bilateralism for quite sometime now. But since it has not delivered the desired results, those in the meeting unanimously agreed to having bilateral agreements instead of multilateral ones.

India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have have been persuading Bangladesh to ink FTA's with them for a long time, as many developed nations like the US, find two way free trade deals more convenient.

Trade experts from Government and private sectors will be included in the core group which would be formed for looking into all the aspects before signing the FTA with these South Asian nations.

The officials present at the conference suggested that India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka should provide Bangladesh with easy access in their markets without strict regulations for the suggested FTA.

According to available data, in the just concluded fiscal, combined trade deficit of Bangladesh with India and Pakistan rose to almost US $2.3 billion, out of which India alone accounted for nearly $2.2 billion.

However, the nation managed to enjoy a narrow trade surplus with Sri Lanka, the figure which touched approximately $27 million until March of fiscal 2007-08.

Analysts believe that, this move would help Bangladesh promote sale of various products and increase the level of overall economic development.

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