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Indonesia has vowed to finalise Indonesia Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement (IBTA) with Bangladesh to boost bilateral trade, reports news agency BSS.

The commitment has come at the FBCCI Cloud Conference titled ‘Bilateral Trade and Investment Opportunities in the Ongoing Global Pandemic and Beyond’ under the joint initiative the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KADIN), said a press release.

To discuss opportunities on trade and investment between Bangladesh and Indonesia, the Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) organised the conference.

FBCCI president Sheikh Fazle Fahim, Bangladesh ambassador to Indonesia retired major general Azmal Kabir, KADIN Indonesia president Rosan Perkasa Roeslani, Indonesia ambassador to Bangladesh Rina P Soemarno discussed collaboration to boost both economies in a post-pandemic world during the ‘FBCCI Cloud Conference’.

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The FBCCI president said, “The humane relations between our nations in the spirit of Muslim brotherhood have been marked by engagements at the OIC, D-8, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). The bilateral trade in FY 2019-20 stood at US$1.8bn.”

The third phase of the IBTA agreement, the first in Bangladesh’s history, has been delayed by the advent of the pandemic, but we are hopeful that within the coming months we will be able to formulate a constructive agreement either eliminating tariff or reducing it thus improving the bilateral trade between our nations
Rina P Soemarno

“But there is massive potential for growth if Bilateral Value Chain Initiative (BVCI) can be explored in pharmaceuticals, agro, diversified jute goods, leather goods, energy, and minerals. We hope that progress on the bilateral PTA with Indonesia will bolster our two-way trade,” he added.

Soliciting KADIN’s support in integrating veteran and upcoming lawyers in FBCCI ADR Centre’s panel of expert arbitrators, Fahim further highlighted the organisation’s other initiatives entailing the FBCCI board’s launch of ‘FBCCI 2041’ to bridge the industry-academia gap, through global knowledge partnership for alternative dispute resolution, applied research, trade facilitation, policy advocacy, technology transfer, startup ecosystem, business process, and STEAM-based skills.

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Highlighting Bangladesh’s success and development even during an unprecedented pandemic Fahim further stated, “Comparing compliant markets and transitioning economies like Bangladesh, ROI makes us an attractive destination with IP protection in place for technology transfer. Indonesian investors with technology and knowledge transfer can tap into Bangladesh’s production competitive edge, 160 million consumer base, 1.8bn SAARC regional market, market access that is Duty-Free Quota Free (DFQF) to India, China, EU, Canada, Australia, APTA, etc.”

The Bangladesh ambassador to Indonesia in his speech said, “Bangladesh has the potential to cater to Indonesian investments and I would urge both public and private representatives in harnessing existing resources and untapped sectors for mutual and inclusive bilateral trade.”

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Underscoring the importance of collaboration in economic recovery, KADIN Indonesia president said, “We are hopeful that the ongoing negotiation between Indonesia Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement (IBTA) will soon be finalised with changes in the tariff that will boost bilateral trade. Indonesian investors have also shown interest in joint initiatives in the energy, power, transportation, infrastructure and tourism sectors of Bangladesh that can be leveraged.”

The Indonesia ambassador to Bangladesh said, “Although the bilateral trade between the two nations has been gradually developing over time, we have yet to harness the full potential, which can exceed the current value. A three-day trade fair that was organised in Bangladesh, alone generated millions of dollars worth of potential trade between the two nations.”

“The third phase of the IBTA agreement, the first in Bangladesh’s history, has been delayed by the advent of the pandemic, but we are hopeful that within the coming months we will be able to formulate a constructive agreement either eliminating tariff or reducing it thus improving the bilateral trade between our nations,” she added.

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Highlighting the meeting of the country leaders during the IORA session, the FBCCI president assured his Indonesian counterparts of following up with the KADIN team on any pending issues integrating the commerce ministry to identify focused areas of targeted milestones.

Raw material imports to Bangladesh, human resource and skills development, exploiting untapped sectors such as automobile, automobile component, jute, agro-processing, resource sharing, and knowledge partnerships have been underscored by Fahim during the ‘FBCCI Cloud Conference’.