New Delhi: The SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Agreement) roadmap suggests that member states should reduce their tariffs through a trade liberalization programme, that will be implemented in two phases.
Phase I’s charter
* Pakistan and India will reduce tariffs to 0-5% by 2013, Sri Lanka by 2014 and four other SAARC members, including Bangladesh, by 2016.
* Newly floated India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (IBCCI) would try to make investments in India to the tune of $3 billion (Rs 12,000) within the next three years.
IBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmed said that the Bangladesh Export processing Zone Authority (BEPZA) has proposed facilities at its Iswardi EPZ to attract Indian investments.
According to the Board of Investment statistics, Indian entrepreneurs have invested $410.273 million in 171 units in Bangladesh so far since 1971.
Indian Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh last month proposed a series of steps to strike a balance in trade with Bangladesh as businesses of the two countries launched the IBCCI.
He said that New Delhi had already confirmed the advancement by one year, the schedule for reducing its import duties to zero for South Asian least developed countries from the original date of December 2008 which “will mean that beginning 1January, 2008, almost 86% of Bangladesh’s tariff lines will not attract any import duty by India”.