Special Report : “Given the proximity and common consumption pattern Bangladesh and India are not definitely utilizing fully the opportunities of bilateral trade”, said Professor Atiur Rahman, former Governor of Bangladesh Bank at a workshop in Delhi today (17 August 2017) organized by CUTS International. Presided by Prithviraj Nath (Associate Director, CUTS International), the workshop was also addressed by Mr. Stephen Wide of USAID and Mr.Anil Jauhuri, CEO of National Accreditation Board of Certification Bodies, India. Stakeholders representing government, think tanks, trade bodies, NGOs from the sub-region participated in the workshop.
In his special remarks Dr. Rahman emphasized on intra-regional trade in South Asia representing a huge market of 1.7 billion people. Besides infrastructural deficit, he identified a number of non-tariff barriers including regulatory hurdles, absence of harmonized standards, lack of mutually acceptable certification facilities on both sides of the border and capacity related challenges. He advised civil society organizations and think tanks to carry on focused research and advocacy on these issues to ensure that governments take advantage of the existing positive political understanding for initiating positive policy and actions on the ground to remove these challenges. He pointed out that on the Indian side of the border the land port facilities have been improved significantly. Facilities on the Bangladesh part need to be at par with those to ensure effective trade. Line of credit from India to Bangladesh is being utilized in developing railway infrastructure. We can also utilize this credit in developing our land port infrastructure as well. We can benefit from the experience of India in developing land ports as well.
Dr. Rahman asked policy makers to take note of the valuable lessons being learned through innovative trade measures like border hats and take appropriate policy moves at a wider scale for mutual benefits. In addition, he brought to the notice of the participants the existing information asymmetry on the ground and advised officials at the border points to be well equipped with legal and regulatory requirements so that they can explain these to both exporters and importers. Awareness raising initiatives are needed to further sensitize all stakeholders about the benefits of improved bilateral trade. Dr. Rahman also advised to hold regular policy discussions with multi-level stakeholders to ease trade facilitation.