Bangladesh and India have engaged in discussions regarding the initiation of talks for a free trade agreement aimed at bolstering their economic ties. This noteworthy development emerged during an official-level meeting of the Joint Working Group on Trade (JWG) between the two nations, which took place in Dhaka last week.
The discussions, as outlined by the Indian Commerce Ministry, encompassed a wide array of bilateral issues. These included addressing port restrictions, laying the groundwork for the commencement of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), aligning standards, mutual recognition of standards, and ensuring the supply of essential commodities to Bangladesh.
These annual meetings serve as a crucial platform for both countries to delve into key trade-related concerns and explore opportunities for collaboration, trade expansion, technical cooperation, and diversification of their economic engagement.
CEPA, a variant of a free trade agreement, involves a substantial reduction or elimination of customs duties on a substantial portion of traded goods between the participating nations. Additionally, CEPA facilitates the easing of regulations to encourage trade in services and investments.
In the course of the meeting, discussions also revolved around matters pertaining to the enhancement of road and rail infrastructure, regional connectivity via multi-modal transportation, and the development or fortification of infrastructure at Land Customs Stations and Integrated Check Posts, as well as the establishment of border haats.
Notably, bilateral trade between the two nations has seen fluctuations, with it registering at $14.2 billion in the fiscal year 2022-23, compared to $8.13 billion in the preceding fiscal year 2021-22.
Bangladesh Records 9.49% Inflation in November
In November, the overall point-to-point inflation rate in the country exhibited a marginal decline to 9.49 percent, attributed primarily to decreases in both food and non-food inflation.
The monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) reported a general inflation rate of 9.93 percent in October. Specifically, food inflation decreased to 10.76 percent in November from 12.56 percent in October, while non-food inflation saw a slight dip to 8.16 percent from the 8.30 percent recorded in the previous month.
Breaking down the data, the rural areas experienced a slight decrease in the overall inflation rate to 9.62 percent in November, down from 9.99 percent in October. Similarly, urban areas witnessed a decline in the general inflation rate to 9.16 percent in November, compared to 9.72 percent in October.
The national wage index rate for November increased to 7.72 percent, showing a slight uptick from the 7.69 percent reported in October.
November Sees Dip in Bangladesh’s Monthly Exports Despite Overall Growth
Export earnings for the current fiscal year (FY24) from July to November reached $22,232.28 million, marking a 1.30 percent growth compared to the same period last year, according to the latest data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
In the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year (FY23), export earnings amounted to $21,946.07 million. However, there was a notable decline in single-month export earnings for November, witnessing a 6.05 percent fall, reaching $4,784.81 million, as opposed to $5,092.56 million in November of the previous year.
The Ready-Made Garments (RMG) sector remained the primary contributor to export earnings during July-November, securing $18,835.65 million. Within this category, knitwear exports accounted for $10,989.42 million, followed by woven garments at $7,846.23 million.
Notable performances in other exportable categories during the July-November period include primary commodities at $601.42 million, agriculture products at $420.59 million, manufactured commodities at $21,630.86 million, plastic products at $92.60 million, leather and leather products at $427.02 million, jute and jute goods at $361.91 million, and specialized technologies [remaining text not provided].
Momen Urges Kosovo to Tap into Skilled Workforce & Import from Key Sectors
The Foreign Minister, in a meeting today with the outgoing Kosovo ambassador Güner Ureya, urged Kosovo to recruit skilled human resources and consider importing high-quality readymade garments and pharmaceuticals from Bangladesh. The ambassador paid a farewell call on the Foreign Minister at the foreign ministry this afternoon.
During the meeting, the Foreign Minister commended the ambassador for actively advancing bilateral relations and emphasized the importance of enhancing people-to-people contact for stronger mutual relations. The outgoing envoy, in turn, expressed appreciation for Bangladesh’s progress and development across various sectors. Additionally, the envoy briefed the Foreign Minister on the shared interest of business communities in both Bangladesh and Kosovo to boost trade and investment between the two countries.
Discussions also encompassed topics such as women empowerment and the necessity of peace for sustainable development. The outgoing envoy lauded the people, culture, and the beauty of Bangladesh.
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