2018-10-18 08:14:45 BdST

BD to push for connectivity, trade deals with Russia


Bangladesh will press for establishing direct connectivity and trade arrangements with Russia at an upcoming bilateral meeting in Moscow next week, officials said on Wednesday.

Dhaka will also request Moscow to allow access of some products, including garment items, to its market with duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) facility, they also said.

Both the countries are likely to sign minutes in the first session of Russia-Bangladesh Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation meeting.

A Bangladesh delegation, headed by Economic Relations Division (ERD) Senior Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam, will take part in the session, scheduled to be held on October 22-24.

Representatives from commerce, ICT, and science and technology ministries, ERD and Bangladesh Bank will be in the delegation.

Currently, Bangladesh does not have direct trade arrangement and connectivity with Russia, which affects bilateral trade, business and investment between the countries.

"Bangladesh or Russia cannot go for opening Letter of Credit (LC), as the central banks of the states do not have any such bilateral provision. It is hampering trade between the two countries despite having huge potentials," said an official.

Besides, connectivity is a big problem between the two economies, which is a key obstacle in establishing direct trade and business, he also said.

An ERD official and a member of the Bangladesh delegation said that since Bangladesh has plan to set up 100 special economic zones (SEZs) across the country, the government will request Russia to channelize investment here.

He said Russia granted DFQF access facility to 48 Bangladeshi products as a least developed country (LDC). But most of these are not adequately produced here for export.

"So, Bangladesh is not getting benefit from the preferential trade arrangement in exporting its items to Russian market. We will seek inclusion of more products in the preferential trade arrangement."

The ERD official further said Bangladesh will also try to be a member of Euro-Asian Economic Commission, a platform of Russia, some CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) and central Asian countries, to get more trade benefits.

A senior official said despite having immense potentials market access of Bangladeshi goods in East European states is still very limited.

The ERD official said: "After the formal bilateral discussion in Moscow, Bangladesh and Russia will sign agreed minutes."

"As per the minutes, the next course of action will be taken by both the sides to simplify trade and increase cooperation in different sectors," he added.

Bangladeshi goods have immense potentials in Russian market. Export of Bangladeshi products to Russia has increased remarkably to US$ 485.22 million in fiscal year 2017-18 against the country's import of $ 628.62 million from there.

Bangladesh mainly exports apparel items, jute, frozen foods, tea, leather, home textiles and ceramic products to Russia.

The country's imports from Russia include cereals, minerals, chemical products, plastic products, metal, machinery and mechanical equipments.

Besides, Russia has investments in nuclear and other conventional power and energy sectors in Bangladesh.

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