Bangladesh-Myanmar JTC meeting begins to boost bilateral trade

Caption: Bangladesh-Myanmar 8th Joint Trade Commission (JTC) meeting held at a local hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday. Photo: PID 

A two-day long Bangladesh-Myanmar 8th Joint Trade Commission (JTC) meeting began in Dhaka on Wednesday aiming to boost bilateral trade ties through strengthening connectivity between the two countries.

“We’ve discussed different issues to promote trade and investment through boosting bilateral relations between the two countries,” Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) of Bangladesh, Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, told Mizzima after concluding the first session of the meeting.

The senior secretary also hoped that the meeting would bring a fruitful result for both the countries.

The commerce secretary led an 18-member Bangladesh delegation at the meeting while Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce Toe Aung Myint led an 8-member delegation.

The meeting discussed trade, banking, tariffs and progress in coastal shipping agreements that were supposed to be launched much earlier, but was not possible due to procedures.

Bangladesh expressed its willingness to import hydroelectric power and pulses, food grains, timber and other items from Myanmar, a senior official familiar with the meeting told Mizzima. 

On the other hand, the Myanmar delegation sought tax reduction on its exports of betel nuts, and dried and salted fish as it has a lot of stock of those goods for export, the official added.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI) has urged authorities concerned to take effective measures to improve connectivity between the two countries.

“We need direct shipping connectivity with Myanmar immediately to expedite bilateral trade between the two countries,” SM Nurul Hoque, president of the BMCCI, told Mizzima. 

The BMCCI chief also said: “This is the right time to improve connectivity with Myanmar.” 

The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries has been quite ‘insignificant’ for years because of a lack of proper initiatives. 

Dhaka exported goods and commodities worth only US$38.22 million to Yangon in 2015-16 while its imports during the period stood at $38.10 million. 

Bangladesh mainly exports pharmaceutical products, woven garments, leather, frozen foods, home textile, agriculture products and other manufacturing goods to Myanmar and imports wood articles, vegetable products, prepared food and fish.

A formal joint statement will be issued on Thursday about the outcome of the meeting.

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