Eastern Times,Correspondent, Dhaka, 2 December: Bangladesh will strike a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Bhutan on 6 December.
On behalf of Bangladesh, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi will sign Bangladesh’s first such bilateral trade agreement at a state guest house in Dhaka.
Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and her Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering will be connected to the hour-long event virtually.
On 6 December, 1971, Bhutan became the first country in the world to recognise Bangladesh’s independence.
Apart from making the day memorable by signing the PTA, the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries will also be celebrated on the day.
Officials at the Bangladesh commerce ministry said Bhutan’s Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma has already signed the final agreement. The Bhutanese ambassador to Bangladesh will return to Dhaka with the signed document and hand it over to the commerce ministry.
Commerce Secretary Zafar Uddin told The Reporters that the date for signing the PTA was fixed in consultation with the Bhutanese ambassador.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will cut a cake to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Bhutan.
Under the PTA, 10 Bangladeshi products, including ready-made garments, will get duty-free access to the Bhutanese market, while 16 Bhutanese items will get the same facility on the Bangladeshi market.
The two neighbouring countries will later be able to add more items to the duty-free list.
The Bangladeshi products that will be covered under the PTA are: baby clothes and clothing accessories, men’s trousers and shorts, jackets and blazers, plywood, particle board, mineral and carbonated water, green tea, orange juice, pineapple juice, and guava juice.
Meanwhile, the Bhutanese products that will get duty-free access to the Bangladeshi market are: milk, natural honey, wheat or meslin flour, homogenised preparations of jams, fruit jellies, marmalades, food preparations of soybeans, mineral water and carbonated water, wheat bran, quartzite, cement clinker, portland cement, soap, wooden particle boards, ferrosilicon, iron bars and rods, and non-alloy steel and wooden furniture.