$3-billion Illegal Trade With Dhaka Catches CIIs Fancy

New Delhi, October 29: | Updated: Oct 30 2002, 05:30am hrs
After Kabul, the Confederation of Indian Industrys (CII) latest fetish is Dhaka. Representing interests of companies such as Tata group, Maruti Udyog, Gas Authority of India Ltd, JK Industries and Hindustan Motors, the chamber has decided to make official a sizable chunk of about $3 billion illegal trade between the two countries.

It is quite surprising that while the official trade between the two countries is about $1 billion, the illegal trade is estimated at about $3 billion. CII with its counterpart in Bangladesh, Metropolitan Chambers of Commerce & Industry has decided to convert a part of this unofficial trade into official one, CII International head Piyush Bahl told FE.

Indian industry will gain immensely if the two governments join hands to promote bilateral trade, he said adding that the balance of trade is in favour of India as its exports to Bangladesh are of about $945 million while it imports goods worth $74 million.

India should re-think its strategy with respect to its neighbouring countries to gain greater access to these markets besides developing better political understanding, Mr Bahl said.

CII is organising a three-day India-Bangladesh Trade and Technology Show in Dhaka in December 02. Over 100 Indian and Bangladeshi companies will participate in the fair, he said.

Bangladesh is interested in exporting textile products (specially the Dhaka sari) and marine products (the Hilsa fish), which anyway come to the country through unofficial routes. If a trade agreement is arrived at between the two governments both will gain, but it will be much higher for India as many companies are looking at Bangladesh as an investment destination, Mr Bahl said.

We have asked both the industry and the government of Bangladesh to present their view points to boost bilateral trade, which will be discussed with the government of India to further liberalise trade between the two, he said. CIIs South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation (Saarc) chairman Subodh Bhargava and Mr Bahl met Bangladeshs finance minister Saifur Rahman and commerce minister Amir Khasru Mahmmud Chowdhury in Dhaka recently. Bangladesh is upset over the huge trade imbalance that exists between the two countries and is pressing for greater market access in India. The two government officials met recently in April 2002 to discuss the bilateral trade.

Bangladesh is demanding duty-free access for 25 product categories representing 191 tariff lines at the six-digit HS level while India has agreed to provide duty-free access to forty tariff lines at the six-digit HS level corresponding to 16 categories of Bangladesh products.