Financial Daily
from THE HINDU group of publications

Wednesday, March 14, 2001



Macro Economy | Next

Bangladesh plea for greater market access

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, March 13

BANGLADESH today renewed its plea to India for grant of duty-free market access on 25 commodities of its export interest immediately which, it said, would go a long way in strengthening the foundation of the South Asian Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ).

Inaugurating a conference on `South Asian Growth Quadrangle -- Emerging opportunities for economic partnership', organised by FICCI here, Mr M.A. Jalil, Commerce Minister of Bangladesh, said that Bangladesh had in the recent past submitted a list of 25 e xport commodities seeking duty-free access to the Indian market.

He pointed out that equitable distribution of the benefits of cooperation is critical for the success of any economic integration scheme, be it at the regional or sub-regional level.

``In this context, it is important to note that unrestrained access to the markets of relatively more developed partner countries is a pre-condition for equitable sharing of benefits by least developed member countries in the economic group,'' Mr Jalil s aid.

He stressed that smaller economic partners such as Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh deserve to be treated more liberally for their smooth integration into the proposed sub-regional grouping.

The Bangladeshi Commerce Minister also felt that the proposed Growth Quadrangle -- consisting of India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh -- offered ``large opportunities'' which, if properly harnessed, could open up avenues for ``spectacular economic develop ment''.

In his address, Mr Omar Abdullah, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, said that India was committed to the process of growth through economic cooperation within the SAGQ.

He said that implementation of projects, with private sector participation, in the areas of hydel resources, oil, gas and coal should accelerate the development process in the sub-region.

Mr Abdullah also felt that projects could be identified in industries based on natural resources including tea, jute, aromatic plants, herbs and medicinal plants.

Further, he underscored the need to improve infrastructure within the SAGQ region -- comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India -- to bring about an improvement in the flow of people, freight and cargo within this region.

Mr Abdullah also pointed out that the large-scale illegal border trade on a wide range of products across the borders of all the partner countries in the SAGQ region demonstrated the availability of market and the need to bring these markets under proper economic management.

Picture: The Commerce Minister for Bangladesh, Mr M.A. Jalil (left), with the Vice-President, FICCI, Mr R.S. Lodha, and the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Mr Omar Abdullah, addressing a conference on `South Asia Growth Quadrangle -- Emergin g opportunities for economic partnership' in the Capital on Tuesday.

Picture by Ramesh Sharma

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