India’s assurance on reviewing anti-dumping duty on jute goods of Bangladesh. On 8th March (Monday), a senior commerce ministry official of Bangladesh confirmed the assurance after a two-day commerce secretary-level meeting between the two countries at InterContinental Hotel in Dhaka.
The delegations were Anup Wadhawan, on behalf of Indian commerce and industries secretary, and Md Jafar Uddin, on behalf of Bangladesh’s commerce secretary.
Prior to the meeting, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said on 7th March (Sunday), “India has long imposed anti-dumping duties on Bangladeshi jute products. They allege that Bangladesh is subsidising exports of jute goods. India has told us that listing some companies in Bangladesh will stop imports from them,”
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi also said, issues of anti-dumping duty imposed by India on Bangladesh’s jute goods and non-tariff barriers would be high on the agenda for the Bangladesh-India commerce secretary-level meeting.
Some other issues, including the restriction imposed by India on edible oil export from Bangladesh and the opening of new border markets, would also be discussed in the meeting, said the commerce minister.
For the last couple of years, anti-dumping duty has been one of the major concerned bilateral trade issues.
Meanwhile, the Indian government slapped anti-dumping duty ranging between $19 and $351.71 per tonne on all jute companies in Bangladesh in 2017.
A country can impose an anti-subsidy duty on imports of goods that have received government subsidies in the originating or exporting country to offset injuries to local products caused by subsidised imports.
On the other hand, India wants Bangladesh to reduce subsidies on jute. Wadhawan urged Munshi to cut the subsidy, ranging from 7 per cent to 20 per cent – that Bangladesh provides to the exporters.
Munshi said, the government might not reduce the subsidy as per the Indian demand and Bangladesh will try to resolve the antidumping duty issue through bilateral discussion.
However, Bangladesh has been seeking withdrawal of the antidumping duty for the last four years, as this has affected the country’s exports to Indian markets.
If the issue is not resolved through bilateral discussions then Bangladesh might go to the World Trade Organisation, the minister also said.
On the other side, Bangladeshi edible oil exporters have been facing problems in exporting the item to India since January 2020 as Indian government has imposed the restriction in importing the item.
The government of India has levied a condition of adding 20 per cent value on refined edible oil to export to India.
India also asked Bangladesh to raise value addition to at least 30 per cent on export of edible oil.
At present, Indian authorities said that Indian customs are ready to accept the Export Promotion Bureau’s certification on export of edible oil as the value addition does not reach a 30 per cent threshold.
The Indian side said the current level of value addition on edible oil from Bangladesh was nearly 20 per cent, said the meeting source.
Nonetheless, India is not only a viable source of cotton, yarn and textile chemicals but also foreign direct investment for Bangladesh, standing as its second largest import destination after China.
Bangladesh annually imports over $8 billion worth of goods from India through formal channels and it is believed that an equal amount is smuggled in through informal ones as the duo share a border of over 4,000 kilometres.
At the meeting, the commerce secretary also shed light on Bangladesh’s onion imports from India and the signing of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two neighbours.
‘We are giving importance to the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to remain competitive on the global market as our exports drop by $4 billion after graduation,’ Tipu Munshi said.
However, India sought more time for the CEPA as a consensual feasibility study was ongoing, he said.
Both the countries preferred to sign a CEPA rather than a free trade agreement (FTA) aspiring higher bilateral trade and investment and mutual recognition of sanitary and phytosanitary certifications, intellectual property rights issues, testing and transportation of goods, employment and border issues.
Only signing an FTA will not cover all these because both are interdependent on global value chains in connection to some important business.
In the 8th March meeting, the Bangladesh delegation also complained over a newly drafted Indian customs rules, saying good exports to the neighbouring country was being affected.
The commerce secretary also shed light on Bangladesh’s onion imports from India. Out of Bangladesh’s total onion import, some 75 per cent comes from India. But both countries get affected when the onion crisis begins. That is why, India imposes a ban on onion export to Bangladesh almost every year to meet national demand.
Munshi said India agreed to give onion seeds so that Bangladesh can grow the item in the summer season to increase its production here and reduce the country’s dependence on Indian onion.
Relying too much on Indian onion is not right, the minister said. “So, Bangladesh may import onions from other countries like Myanmar.”
A commerce ministry statement said the delegations also discussed tariff and non-tariff duties, increasing the number of border haats and regional connectivity, expanding bilateral trade and progresses made through previous meetings.
Again, negotiation is underway to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Indonesia and a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with Nepal.
The government has been making preparations to sign either CEPA, FTA or PTA with 11 countries to continue enjoying duty privileges after its economic graduation.