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Bangladesh, India Explore Free Trade Agreement Talks to Strengthen Economic Ties

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bangladesh trade

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.

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PM Sheikh Hasina apprehended such strike by BNP-Jamaat to halt country’s prosperity

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Sheikh Hasina

Referring to the countrywide recent havoc and atrocities, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said that she had an apprehension there might be a strike like this by the BNP-Jamaat clique to pull down the country’s prosperity.

“. . . they (BNP-Jamaat) had wanted not to hold the elections, but we had arranged the elections. After election they thought it wouldn’t be accepted by all, but we’ve also made it acceptable to all and we’ve formed the government. It was an apprehension to me that there would be a strike like this,” she said.

The Premier made this remarks while exchanging views with editors, senior journalists and head of news of various media outlets, organised by Editors’ Guild at her office (PMO).

She mentioned that before and after the election in 2013-14, the BNP-Jmaat clique unleashed arson attacks and killings that left hundreds of people killed and thousands injured.

“It was little bit understandable that this (the activities and movement of the students) was a grave conspiracy,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said that she didn’t want any incident which might invite any unwanted situation that will invite instability in the country. “It was the target to destroy country’s economy,” she said.

She questioned about the understanding level of the people who supported these mayhem aiming to cripple the country’s advancement and prosperity.

Sheikh Hasina, also the chief of Awami League, said that vested quarter is highly interested to destroy country’s independence and the continuation of the democracy that is going on for long 15 years.

She again said that she never wanted to deploy army personnel in the field while the students were there for the sake of their security.

 

“While they (students) declared that they are not involved in the on going subversive activities then we called for army,” she said.

The premiers also said that she also didn’t want to impose curfew as the country is going through a democratic environment for 15 years.

She requested the people to resist those who have done this bane for the country. “They have destroyed all the structures have been built for their welfare and livelihood. They have struck all those structures. Who will be the worst sufferer? Of course, mass people. Now it is the responsibility of the mass people to resist these terrorism and militancy,” she said.

The premier called for creating mass awareness against the militancy that has opened in the destructive activities.”If the people don’t become aware then what could we do or how much we could do alone,” she said.

She also mentioned that the targets of the recent mayhem was Awami League, Freedom Fighters and pro-liberation forces.

The Prime Minister said that when all demands of the quota-free movement students were accepted why they gave scope to the militants for doing such heinous activities.

“One day the quota-free movement activists have to answer to the nation, why they gave such opportunity to them for this destruction to the country,” she said.

PM’s Press Secretary Md Nayeemul Islam Khan moderated the programme, while Editors’ Guild president Mozammel Huq Babu delivered welcome address.

Senior journalist Abed Khan, Bangladesh Pratidin editor Nayeem Nizam, DBC Editor-in-Chief and CEO Monzurul Islam, Bhorer Kagoj Editor and Jatiya Press Club general secretary Shyamol Dutta, Daily Jugantor Editor Saiful Alam, Jatiya Press Club president Farida Yasmin, Dhaka Journal chief editor Syed Istiaque Reza, Head of News Nagorik TV Dip Azad, Amader Somoy Editor Mainul Alam, Bangladesh Journal editor Shajahan Sarder, DBC news editor Zayedul Ahsan Pintu, Ashish Saikat of Independent TV, Bangla Tribune editor Zulfiquer Russell, head of News of 71 TV Shakil Ahmed, Energy and Power Editor Mollah Amzad, Head of News of Kings News Nazmul Huq Saikat and Mamunur Rahman Khan of RTV also spoke.

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UK inflation holds at 2% in June: official data

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UK Inflation

Britain’s inflation rate held steady in June after returning to the Bank of England’s target the previous month, official data showed Wednesday, confounding expectations for another modest slowdown.

The Consumer Prices Index was unchanged at 2.0 percent in June from the same level in May, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement, compared with market forecasts of 1.9 percent.

“Hotel prices rose strongly, while second-hand car costs fell but by less than this time last year,” said ONS chief executive Grant Fitzner.
“However, these were offset by falling clothing prices, with widespread sales driving down their cost.

“Meanwhile, the cost of both raw materials and goods leaving factories fell on the month, though factory gate prices remain above where they were a year ago.”

Analysts said the data could cause the Bank of England to sit tight for a while longer before starting to cut interest rates.

“The chances of an interest rate cut in August have diminished a bit more,” said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at research consultancy Capital Economics.

Last month, the BoE kept its key interest rate at a 16-year high of 5.25 percent, despite slowing inflation in May.

Britain’s newly elected Labour government welcomed news that inflation remained at the BoE’s target level.

“It is welcome that inflation is at target,” said Darren Jones, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in a statement.

“But we know that for families across Britain prices remain high… (which) is why this government is taking the tough decisions now to fix the foundations” of the UK economy, he said.

Labour, led by new Prime Minister Keir Starmer, has pledged immediate action to grow the economy after the centre-left party won a landslide general election victory to end 14 years of Conservative rule.

Later on Wednesday, King Charles III will read out Labour’s first programme for government in a decade and a half, when the UK parliament formally reopens following the July 4 election.
Elevated interest rates have worsened a UK cost-of-living squeeze because they increase borrowing repayments, thereby cutting disposable incomes and crimping economic activity.

The BoE began a series of rate hikes in late 2021 to combat inflation, which rose after countries emerged from Covid lockdowns and accelerated after the invasion of Ukraine by key oil and gas producer Russia.

 

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China’s economy grew less than expected in second quarter: official data

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China’s economy grew 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2024, official data showed Monday, less than analysts had expected.

“By quarter, the GDP for the first quarter increased by 5.3 percent year on year and for the second quarter 4.7 percent,” Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.

The figures were much lower than the 5.1 percent predicted by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Retail sales — a key gauge of consumption — also slowed to just two percent in June, the NBS said, down from 3.7 percent in May.

The world’s second-largest economy is grappling with a real estate debt crisis, weakening consumption, an ageing population and trade tensions with Western rivals.

Top officials are meeting in Beijing on Monday for a key plenum, with all eyes on how they might kickstart lacklustre growth.

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