Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed on Friday stressed the need for signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with Beijing aiming to narrow the yawning trade gap between Bangladesh and China.
“We’re going to conduct a feasibility study on free trade agreement…. if we’ve a free trade agreement, both the countries will get duty-free facility in exporting goods to each other,” he told the Bangladesh-China Business Forum in the capital.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) jointly organised the programme at Sonargaon Hotel.
Tofail said China is one of the largest trade partners of Bangladesh. “We’re grateful to China as it has given us duty-free access for our goods to its market.”
Bangladesh and China have a huge trade gap. In 2015-16 fiscal, Bangladesh exported goods worth US$ 0.81 billion to China while imported items worth US$ 965 billion from the East Asian nation.
About the widening trade gap, the commerce minister said Bangladesh has increased export growth to China in recent years and if the growth continues, Bangladesh will be able to boost its export to China to US$2 billion within two or three years.
Calling upon Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Bangladesh, he said if Chinese investors come up with their greater volume of investment here, both Bangladesh and China will be benefited from it.
CCPIT vice president Chen Zhou said Chinese entrepreneurs want to invest in infrastructure, machinery, garments and other sectors of Bangladesh.
Noting Bangladesh is one of the partners of China in terms of project conducting, he said Chinese experts and consultants may help Bangladeshi counterparts implement their power development projects.
FBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmed said the government of Bangladesh is committed to facilitating the private sector towards business expansion and diversification.
Chinese business and investment partners will find Bangladesh as an ideal trade and investment destination, he observed.
Later, 15 Chinese companies signed trade agreements with 15 Bangladeshi counterparts.
Chairman of TEBIAN Electric Apparatus Co Ltd Zhangxin, president of China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation Wang Xu Sheng, managing director of Incepta Pharmaceuticals Limited Abdul Muktadir, among others, spoke at the meeting.