Dhaka – Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi yesterday expected that Bangladesh and Indonesia would be able to ink a bilateral preferential trade agreement soon.
Munshi expressed his optimism at a meeting with Indonesian Ambassador to Bangladesh Heru Hartanto Subolo at the commerce ministry.
At the meeting, the ambassador agreed to advance in regards to the signing of a trade deal, according to a press statement.
The commerce ministry said the two countries had earlier formed a trade negotiation committee. The panel has already held three meetings while the fourth is expected to take place next month in Indonesia.
There is a possibility of a final discussion at the coming meeting, Munshi said.
The announcement comes as Bangladesh focuses on signing trade pacts with its trading partners as a part of its preparation to tackle the challenges after its graduation from a least developed country (LDC) in 2026, when its exports would lose the duty-free market access to a number of markets and face tariff from importing countries.
The commerce ministry said the two countries had earlier formed a trade negotiation committee. The panel has already held three meetings while the fourth is expected to take place next month in Indonesia
Experts earlier said Bangladesh might lose $6.38 billion in export after graduating to developing country status.
Munshi suggested businesses of both nations explore opportunities and identify potential sectors for trade and investment.
He called on Indonesia to grant more access to Bangladesh's apparel, pharmaceutical and leather goods to the Indonesian market to balance two-way trade between the countries.
Bangladesh exported $78.57 million worth of goods to the southeast Asian nation against imports of $3 billion in fiscal year 2021-22. Vegetable oil, namely palm oil, is the main commodity imported by Bangladesh from Indonesia.
Munshi also suggested Indonesia ease the visa process for Bangladeshis.
At the meeting, Indonesia's ambassador agreed to take steps regarding the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the apex chambers of both the countries.
Subolo also lauded the achievements of Bangladesh led Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and said Indonesian businesses are interested to set up a palm oil refinery in the country.