Nepal agreed to provide preferential treatment to 50 Bangladeshi items at the two-day bilateral talks which began on Wednesday. Officials at the Ministry of Commerce and Supply said Nepal agreed to reduce the customs duty on the selected products.
Bangladesh had been seeking duty free access to 64 of its products, including fish, medicines, jute and juice, in the Nepali market.
The Secretary at the ministry Naindra Prasad Upadhyaya said it has agreed to reduce the customs duty in line with the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta) provisions. “We have agreed to reduce the customs duty to 5 percent on those products from the previous rates of 15 percent or more,” he said.
The ministry has also agreed to reduce customs duty to just 3 percent on the goods which were in the 3-15 percent duty range, Upadhyaya said, adding that the Bangladeshi delegation would finalise the proposal after discussions with the concerned authority in Dhaka.
Nepal also tabled a proposal on harmonising the sanitary-phytosanitary measures (quality standards) of the two countries. Upadhyaya said they handed over a draft of the Memorandum of Understanding on accepting the lab certification of one country to another for exports of agro products.
According to the ministry, the meeting decided to request the Indian authorities to establish an immigration office along the Fulbari-Baglabandh route in India. Currently, Nepali exporters have to endure problems in receiving visa and entry permit in Bangladesh in the absence of immigration office of India. “Provided India sets up an immigration office, Bangladesh has agreed to provide the on-arrival visa to Nepali exporters,” he said.
Similarly, the meeting endorsed the duty free access to 108 Nepali products in the Bangladeshi market as agreed in the last trade talks held in Dhaka in 2013. Nepal, which had proposed duty free access to 153 products, is seeking such concession for 45 additional products, mainly including farm products like tea, dairy items, vegetables, meat. The two countries have been holding the joint secretary-level trade talks since 2008.