Even as prime minister Manmohan Singh begins his two-day visit to Bangladesh, the government today hinted that Bangladesh might be allowed to sell more garments in the Indian market duty-free.
In April the Indian government had raised the (duty-free) quota for Bangladesh garment exports from 8 million pieces to 10 million, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said. There was demand for some more and the government would take a fair view on that, he added.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh is set to visit Bangladesh on 6-7 September. His visit is intended to give a fillip to bilateral ties.
Responding to a query as to whether Bangladesh had demanded more duty-free garment exports to India, Sharma said, it was true that many of the tariff lines in the textiles sector were under discussion.
India had, in April, hiked the quota for duty-free import of garments from Bangladesh by 2 million pieces to 10 million.
Bangladesh is looking for duty-free export of 61 items to India, as against the 54 textile items that are currently allowed.
Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh touched $2.6 billion in the 2009-10 financial year.
Meanwhile, the Apparel Export Promotion Council has expressed shock over the ad-hoc and arbitrary concessions granted to Bangladesh by the government. Premlal Udani, chairman of AEPC, said commenting on newspaper reports of 48 textile items being taken off the negative list. "Never in the history of any trade negotiations, such an accelerated process of concessions had happened," he said, adding that the industry was willing to offer 14 items to be removed from the negative list.
He said an abrupt removal of 48 items, which comprise nearly 85 per cent of India's present imports from Bangladesh, would severely impact the Indian apparel manufacturing activity.