India to simplify visa for Bangladeshi businessmen

Dhaka (The Daily Star/ANN) - Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran yesterday assured Bangladeshi businesspeople of simplifying multiple visas.

Saran also said India would take steps to remove barriers to minimise the trade gap between the two neighbours. The envoy said there are issues of para-tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.

"We are fully committed to addressing them, and several steps are being taken to remove difficulties relating to testing, warehousing and labelling," said Saran.

India's growth offers opportunities to Bangladeshi investors and businesspersons and Bangladesh can become a hub connecting India to East and Southeast Asia, he said.

The high commissioner spoke at a discussion at the office of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in Dhaka. Top leaders of different chambers were also present.

Despite the global slowdown, Bangladesh has succeeded in maintaining growth at more than 6 percent a year and its foreign exchange reserves and savings and investment rates are higher than ever, Saran said.

"There are issues of trade infrastructure, and how we can encourage more direct investments in each other's countries. We also have a whole range of economic activity that goes on between us," the envoy said.

Bangladesh imported goods worth US$4.58 billion from India in fiscal 2010-11 and exported goods worth $512.50 million.

The trade gap is widening due to tough procedures in obtaining Indian visas, non-tariff and para-tariff barriers to trade, and vehicle movement restriction, according to the businessmen.

Traditional technical standards and weak infrastructures at land customs stations also hamper trade between the two countries, they said.

They also called for stability in the boarder areas to deepen trade relations between the two neighbours.

FBCCI President AK Azad said it is true that some Bangladeshi products cannot enter the Indian market because of some non-tariff barriers.

The existence of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers in the form of countervailing duties, surcharges, central and provincial sales taxes, luxury duties, certification and quality approval requirements hampers exports to India, he said.

India will be the next export destination for Bangladesh, Azad added.



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