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Bangladesh eyes FTA with China: commerce minister Release date: 2021-06-11    Source:Xinhua

Bangladesh has indicated its keenness to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, its largest trading partner, to help Bangladesh graduate from the least developed country (LDC) status.

The indication was given by Bangladeshi Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi while speaking as the chief guest at a virtual discussion on "Bangladesh China Economic and Trade Relations During and Beyond the Pandemic - Opportunities and Challenges" on Wednesday.

At the webinar jointly organized by the Bangladesh-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Economic Reporters Forum, the minister said a memorandum of understanding was signed between the ministries of commerce of the two countries on Launching a Joint Feasibility Study of China-Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement in October 2016.

He said FTAs help to enhance competitive advantage, increase markets assesses for goods and services, strengthen investors' confidence and to a large extent, build Bangladesh's economic sustainability.

"Although some progress had been made, still we need to put lots of effort to conclude the negotiation and materialize the prospect of the FTA," said the minister.

"I believe, this will also help Bangladesh to face the LDC graduation challenge."

The minister said the most inspiring feature of Sino-Bangladesh relationship is its relative stability and continuity. "We, therefore, attach high importance on our relationship with China. We have a long enduring trade relation with China."

China announced huge investments in various sectors of Bangladesh, said the minister, adding that implementation of those investment projects are now in full swing.

He thanked the Chinese government for offering Bangladesh exports to China Duty-Free Quota Free (DFQF) access for 97 percent of Chinese tariff lines from July 1, 2020.

"As a result 8,256 products originating from Bangladesh will enjoy duty free quota free access to China. I strongly believe that by utilizing this DFQF facility the trade imbalance can be reduced to a greater extent," he told the webinar.

Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming and Bangladesh Ambassador to China Mahbub Uz Zaman also spoke at the webinar.

In keynote speech, Abdur Razzaque, research director of leading local think-tank Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, said establishing a full-fledged FTA is an option to retain the available market access in China.

Ambassador Li said both Bangladesh and China have witnessed intensive economic cooperation and friendly mutual assistance between the two countries in recent years.

Islam said China is currently not merely a big economy but also a driving force of the world economy.

Bangladesh can reap optimum benefits of its friendship with China, he said, adding that "we're stand ready to support Chinese investors in our country."