The Telegraph
Sunday , January 19 , 2014
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Dhaka for revival of treaty

Ahmed: Hopeful

New Delhi, Jan. 18: Bangladesh is in favour of reviving a 1999 treaty that allowed trans-shipment of goods through India. The country is looking at establishing regional connectivity to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka through India.

“Connectivity is the biggest issue in South Asia and we will work towards improving it. We would like to ship our goods to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka through India just as we do to Bhutan and Nepal.

“At the same time, we are in favour of trans-shipment of goods through Bangladesh. In my earlier stint in 1999 we had agreed on this,” Bangladesh’s new commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, who had served in the same position between 1996 and 2001, said in an interview with The Telegraph.

In 1999, Bangladesh had agreed to allow Indian goods to be trans-shipped through its territory. This meant Bangla truckers would carry Indian goods from mainland India to the latter’s northeastern states through Bangladesh for a fee.

“Bangladesh is the world’s biggest exporter of readymade garments, selling some $30 billion to the world. India is one of the biggest markets for garments, but we export goods worth just about $500 million to our nearest neighbour. I would like to change that,” said Ahmed.

Bangladesh’s exports to India rose to $564 million in 2012-13, up 13.5 per cent over the previous year. Garments account for 80 per cent of Bangladesh’s total exports and India, whose domestic garments market is valued at $35 billion, is seen as the market which Bangladesh should target for the future.

“India sells us $4.5 billion worth of goods. We do not resent that as most of it is either raw material for our export processors such as cotton, yarn, fibre or it is complementary products which we need such as sugar and machinery. However, we do need new and large markets for our exports.”