Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said the government wanted to move forward with a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Bangladesh and called for greater cooperation between the countries in areas such as defence and pharmaceuticals production.
In FY21, trade with Bangladesh accounted for about 3.3 per cent of exports at $9.7 billion and 0.3 per cent of imports at $1.3 billion.
“We need to give more impetus to joint production of defence equipment. Our defence cooperation has not progressed though India offered a $500 million dollars line of credit. The time has come to take it to the next level,” Goyal said at a virtual India-Bangladesh stakeholder’s meet. In 2019, India had announced a $500 million line of credit to Bangladesh for defence related procurement.
“We look to advance a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Bangladesh in the days to come,” Goyal said. India is currently in the process of negotiating free trade agreements with the UK, EU, Australia, Canada and Israel and has recently concluded an FTA with the UAE. He added the two countries should look at a joint development program for vaccines and other medicines and become the “pharmacy of the world.”
He suggested increased cooperation in defence and pharmaceuticals production as two of four focus areas to strengthen economic ties between the two countries. The Minister also suggested building uninterrupted resilient supply chains and exploring potential areas of investments like textile, jute products, leather and footwear as two other focus areas.
He added the total of $8 billion extended to Bangladesh, through three lines of credit, was the largest concessional credit given by India to any single country.