After Bangladesh sought duty free access for 301 items to Indonesia, the Southeast Asian country has requested Bangladesh to grant similar facilities for 271 products under the proposed preferential trade agreement (PTA) between the two countries, officials said.
Indonesia also sought a reduction of duty by 50 per cent for 33 products and by 40 per cent for another five products.
The Southeast Asian country has recently forwarded the list containing the names of the products, known as a request list, to the Bangladesh Commerce Ministry for consideration as per the decision of the second meeting of the trade negotiation committee (TNC) held in July 2019.
Bangladesh list for the duty-free access included readymade garments, leather and leather goods, pharmaceuticals, jute and jute goods, and electronic products.
Commerce ministry officials said that the Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) has primarily prepared a recommendation, as per ministry inputs and upon consultation with stakeholders, on the possible offers to be made against Indonesia's request. Trade experts from the both countries would discuss the lists at the next TNC meeting to be held soon, the officials said.
The TNC on the Bangladesh-Indonesia PTA started negotiations in February 2019 to reach a conclusion over the signing of the agreement.
The Indonesian product list includes palm oil, coconut oil, vegetable fats, fish, natural honey, cocoa, sand, stone, granules, gypsum, limestone, coal, petroleum oils, wood and wood products, rails, aluminium, air conditioner, refrigerator, washing machine, mobiles and mobile accessories, computer monitor, television and its parts, LED lamp, solar modules, printer, various types of spare parts, coconuts, betel nuts, dried fruit, coffee, tea, rice and various types of spices.
Of the products under the list, 25 per cent customs duty is now applicable on import of 144 products by Bangladeshi traders, 15 per cent on eight products, 10 per cent on 69 products, 5 per cent on 60 products, and 1 per cent on 16 products and zero duty on import of nine products.
Out of the 144 products with 25 per cent CD, Indonesia sought full exemption of CD for 125 products.
The officials said that 157 of the products on the request list sent by Indonesia were already on Bangladesh's preference list for trade under the South Asian Free Trade Agreement with 0 to 5 per cent duty rates.
Therefore, these products might be first considered for offer, they said. They said that the decision would be taken following recommendations of the stakeholders, including local manufacturers. The BTC on December 30 held the first consultation meeting with the stakeholders concerned.
The stakeholders recommended the commission to exclude some products, including television, tea and sugar, from the offer list.
The lists will be finalised with the advice of the commerce ministry and other government agencies. Currently, bilateral trade between the two countries is heavily against Bangladesh. Bangladesh exported goods worth only $55 million to the country in 2017-18.
On the other hand, Bangladesh imported goods worth $1.15 billion from the country in FY 2017.