India allows more duty free garments imports from Bangladesh

Dhaka: India on Saturday said it has increased the quota for duty free import of garments from Bangladesh by two million pieces to 10 million and also removed countervailing duty on jute.

This was announced by India`s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is leading a strong business delegation of Ficci here.

"We view that our engagement with Bangladesh will bring in rewards for both countries, ushering in job generation and overall prosperity," Sharma said at a function of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Countervailing duties (CVDs), levied to protect domestic industries, are trade import duties imposed under WTO rules to neutralise the negative effects of subsidies.

The Minister also said India is stepping up infrastructure at its border with Bangladesh to boost bilateral trade USD 3.5 billion.

Sharma said both sides have agreed that a joint group would regularly review the border infrastructure for enhancing trade.

"Work is about to commence on Petropol and Agartala. Both will be ready by next year," he added.

Both the sides agreed to strengthen infrastructure at borders including construction of land custom stations and integrated check posts particularly at Petrapole and Agartala.

He said Border Haats (informal markets) in Meghalaya would be ready by June.

Besides trade, the Indian industry has also been investing in Bangladesh. Major investors include Airtel, Sun Pharma, Asian Paints, Marico and the Tatas.

Sharma said as much as USD 3.5 billion investment from India is in the pipeline.

Although India has banned export of non-basmati rice and wheat because of domestic inflation, it has allowed exports of 3 lakh tonne Par boiled rice and 2 lakh tonne wheat to Bangladesh. However, shipments are yet to commence.

The minister said: "We are ready and the shipments (of commodities) can commence if Bangladesh wants…as they decide which port to take it from, as early as next week".

Meanwhile Bangladesh Commerce Minister Muhammad Faruk Khan said his country`s exports to India have increased by 16 per cent between July-March 2010-11.

"We are pitching for 61 duty free items from India. Right now, we are getting 54 items duty free in textile," Khan said.

India has also offered assitance for the upgradation of Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI).