India to import Bangladeshi garments worth USD 8 million: Ramesh

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Kolkata, Mar 20 (UNI) India has struck off Bangladesh from the "negative list" to enhance bilateral trade and was now considering the same for Pakistan, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said here today.

''This decision has been taken to enhance the balance of trade between India and Bangladesh and as immediate result under the new regime, this year we would import garments worth USD eight million from the neighbouring country,'' Mr Ramesh said.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, in its meeting on March 13, decided to strike off Bangladesh from the "negative list", he informed.

This step was taken with a view to building up the confidence level and expanding business activities between the two nations, he added.

As per the existing regulations, Pakistan and Bangladesh were not allowed to venture into Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India, resulting in huge gap in the balance of trade between the nations.

During 2007-08, while India exported goods to Bangladesh worth USD two billion, the import from that country was only USD 2.5 million, creating about nine times trade deficit, Mr Ramesh said.

Industry sources said the latest decision of the Centre, allowing more imports from Bangladesh, would ease a standoff of the Tata Group's USD three billion investment proposals to Bangladesh since the past two years. The Tata Group is expected to invest in steel, fertilisers, chemicals and the coal sector in Bangladesh.

Mr Ramesh said he had also approached the highest authorities in the Cetnre to strike off Pakistan from the "negative list" so that the trade between the two nations could be boosted. He said the matter was now under active consideration.

''From this year onwards, Bangladesh is expected to export garments worth USD eight million annually as well as expand business in other areas in a phased manner,'' he said.

Bangladesh had huge export potential of pharmaceuticals, textile and food processing products and West Bengal would get maximum benefit from the enhancement in trade relations, he added.

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