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Written by: Staff

DHAKA, Apr 16 (Reuters) Bangladesh's trade deficit with India rose more than 13 percent to $1.075 billion in the six months to December 2005, dashing Dhaka's hopes of narrowing the trade gap with its neighbour, officials said on Sunday.

They blamed it mainly on Indian non-tariff barriers that restrict exports from Bangladesh, although India allowed 91 Bangladeshi items to be exported duty free for the first time.

Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia conveyed her worries over the yawning trade imbalance in favour of India when she recently visited New Delhi, officials said.

''The sheer size of imbalance (in bilateral trade) has been a matter of great concern to Bangladesh and features in almost every discussion we have at state or private levels,'' one senior commerce ministry official said.

Bangladesh's exports to India in the July-December period, the first half of current fiscal year, rose 42 percent from a year earlier to $105 million. In the same period, imports from India were $1.18 billion, up 16.83 percent.

($1= 69.35 taka ) REUTERS PV HT1435

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