Bangladesh, SAARC states trade gap $1945 million
Trade imbalance between Bangladesh and the rest of the SAARC member states is increasing alarmingly despite different initiatives to reduce the gap. The trade gap reached to US$1944.65 million in fiscal year 2004-05 while it was US$1584 million in FY 2003-04.
Heads of governments of the SAARC member states signed South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) in the twelfth SAARC summit on January 2004 held in Islamabad with a view to increase trade among the stakeholders.
The negations of SAFTA clauses is going on but several bilateral and unilateral meetings of the SAARC member states pledged a lot to increase trade and reduce the trade gap. Participants of the meetings too pledged to enhance trade through removing the obstacles.
Meanwhile, a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers among the SAARC member states have been removed in recent years creating room for more bilateral and unilateral trade. According to the latest data available, trade gap between Bangladesh and India in FY 2004-05 is US$1864 million while it was US$1510.19 million in FY 2003-04 and US$ 1270.90 million.
At present trade gap between Bangladesh and Pakistan is US$ 75.80 million, Bhutan is US$ 3.82 million, and Nepal is US$0.88 million.
Bangladesh is in the advance position with Sri Lanka by US$ 0.71 million and with Maldives by US$0.002 million in the FY 2004-05. Business leaders hoped that full-fledged implementation of SAFTA will help SAARC member countries to increase trade and reduce the gap.
It may be mentioned here that the acceleration of economic growth is a Charter objective of SAARC. Cooperation in the core economic areas among SAARC Member Countries was initiated following the Study on Trade, Manufactures and Services (TMS), which was completed in June 1991.
The Study considered economic cooperation among the countries of the SAARC region as an imperative for promoting all-round development of the region.
The Council of Ministers at its Ninth Session in July 1991 endorsed the Study and established the Committee on Economic Cooperation (CEC) comprising Commerce/Trade Secretaries of the SAARC Member States.
Source: The New Nation (9.11.2005),