The Telegraph
Tuesday , December 18 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999

Dhaka roots for better trade status

New Delhi, Dec. 17: Bangladesh wants India to stop treating it on a par with Pakistan, from which it broke away 41 years ago, as a “security risk” nation. Such a treatment hurts its business prospects in India, feels Dhaka.

“We are still bracketed with Pakistan in terms of financial security. The RBI mechanism pre-empts any application from a Bangladeshi business house to set up offices, factories or outlets here...we are still considered a security risk... We have taken this up, I don’t know how long it will take to find a solution,” Bangladesh high commissioner to India Tariq Ahmad Karim said.

He was speaking at a conference on regional connectivity organised by the CII and the World Bank in Delhi.

In December last year, India gave Bangladesh duty-free and quota-free market access to all products except a handful “in a grand gesture, for which we must express great appreciation”, Karim said.

However, non tariff barriers and irritants are holding up trade between the neighbours.

“If you go to Dhaka, you will see over 100 Indian brand names at any posh street corner, but not a single one here in Delhi. I face questions from my own family on why Bangladeshi brands have not been able to make it here,” Karim said.

Bangladeshi diplomats said a home-grown consumer durables and two-wheelers major, Walton, had managed to get orders worth $100 million at a trade show in Guwahati but could not complete the sale as Indian customs refused to let the goods be taken through a customs port in Meghalaya.

Indian customs wanted the motorcycles and plasma TV sets to be routed through Bengal’s Petrapole border post, negating the locational advantage that Bangladesh has in market openings in the Northeast.

Karim said bonafide Bangladeshi executives posted by global transnationals here have seen their bank accounts being frozen for no reason.

“They (Bangladeshi business) are not going to come (if this state of affairs continues). These are little things but they do translate into big hurdles.”

Officials said Dhaka had taken up a specific case of a Bangladeshi technocrat working for Japanese giant Mitsubishi in Delhi for the last 12 years who suddenly found his bank account frozen.