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Saturday, March 21, 2015, Chaitra 7, 1421 BS, Jamadi ul Awwal 29, 1436 Hijr

Dhaka seeks duty-free access to Thai market
Published : Saturday, 21 March, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 12

Bangladesh has sought duty-free and quota-free access to the Thailand market.
The trade between the two countries is worth over $1.2 billion, but Bangladesh exports account for less than $100 million.
The new Bangladesh ambassador to Thailand, Saida Muna Tasneem, made the market access request to offset this heavy imbalance, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.
She met the Thai foreign minister General Tanasak Patimapragorn at his office on Wednesday. The General is also the Deputy Prime Minister.
Tasneem said Thailand should give Bangladesh market access, as it has achieved the 'higher middle income country' status.
She mentioned some specific products like apparels, jute and jute products, leather and leather goods, medicines, sacks and bags, and chemical products while seeking the facility.
The Thai minister showed his government's "keen" interest in "a more active and robust engagement" with Bangladesh to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties.
The ambassador reaffirmed Bangladesh's commitment to "a closer diplomatic, trade and investment partnership" with Thailand, given the close geographical proximity.
She also requested the Thai minister to encourage investors to invest in Bangladesh, particularly in tourism and hospitality, power generation, food processing, automobiles, machinery, electronics, ship-building, and hospital and health services.
She highlighted the need to explore new areas of cooperation and finalise agreements on exemption of visa for diplomatic and official passports.
She also sought the opening up of the Thai employment market for Bangladeshi workers, and technical cooperation in fisheries and livestock, and between the Bangladesh Accreditation Board and the Thai Industrial Standards Institute.
The ambassador also underscored the importance of holding the first-ever Foreign Office Consultations at the Foreign Secretaries level in Dhaka early this year.
Such meetings had been agreed in the Joint Statement of 2012, signed during the former Thai PM's visit to Dhaka.
The ambassador said this would pave the way for the much awaited '7th Joint Commission Meeting' at the foreign ministers level in Dhaka later this year and the 'Joint Trade Council Meeting' between the commerce ministers.
The Thai foreign minister promised his government's "positive consideration" on all the proposals made by the ambassador.
He said the foreign secretary level talks could be held in early May.
He hoped that the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Thailand would reach to "newer heights with visible outcomes" during the new ambassador's tenure.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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