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Friday, December 12, 2014, Agrahayan 28, 1421, Safar 18, 1436 Hijr

Bangladesh-Bhutan trade gap needs balancing
Saifunnahar Sumi
Published : Friday, 12 December, 2014,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 14
Balance of trade between Bangladesh and Bhutan still remains in favour of the Himalayan Kingdom as Dhaka fails to export many of its goods   to the land of dragon due to a constrained small corridor via India.
Bangladesh cannot use the corridor because of absence of a transit treaty with India, business officials said.
They said trade balance of Bangladesh with Bhutan has always been in the negative from starting of business with the neighbour and it has decreased three times last year (2013-2014 FY) compared to the first trade balance in FY 2004-2005.
Thus, the Balance of Trade denotes the differences of imports and exports of a merchandise of a country during the course of the year.  The trade balance is the calculation of a country's exports minus its imports.
Since Bangladesh is importing more than it is exporting to Bhutan from the beginning this has resulted in the negative trade balance.
In 2013- 2014 FY, the trade balance was US$ (-) 20.59 which was $(-) 3.49 million in 2003-2004 FY and the export was worth $1.91 million and import, $22.50 million in 2013- 2014 FY, Export Promotion Bureau data said.
Bangladesh exports mainly cereal, flour, milk preparation and milk products, vegetables, beverages, plastic, articles of apparel, accessories, aluminium goods etc and Bangladesh import fresh fruits, construction materials, raw materials of cement industry and spices from Bhutan.
Bhutan gives duty- free access to 90 Bangladeshi products, but Bangladesh gives access to 18 products of Bhutan.
Aiming to give their relations a stronger footing, Bangladesh and Bhutan renewed their bilateral trade agreement on Saturday. Cooperation in the areas of electricity, connectivity, trade between the two countries, water resources management and culture were discussed at the meeting.
The agreement has been renewed for five years normally but extension might be there in the future which will provide a 'greater impetus' to the existing trade and commercial relations between Bangladesh and Bhutan, said Additional Commerce Secretary (FTA) Manoj Kumar Roy.
Bhutan proposed Bangladesh to carry products on the self same truck to reduce travel cost through the Indian territory.
But there is no transit facility between Bangladesh and India. So we will decide to sign two bilateral treaties with India and Bhutan to boost trade in Bhutan, Manoj told The Daily Observer.
Economist Mustafizur Rahman said, "We need to assess the product demands of Bhutan and we also have to see whether we produce that particular product or not. If we produce those items we have to compete with India and China. So we need to plan to grab the market."
"Our main export item is RMG products, so we can easily avail the garments market in Bhutan," Mustafiz added.

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