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Dhaka to press Yangon to sign investment promotion deal

Bangladesh-Myanmar joint trade commission meeting begins on Tuesday

Nazmul Ahsan

Dhaka is keen to expedite the process for signing an investment promotion treaty with Yangon during the upcoming trade talks of Bangladesh-Myanmar joint trade commission in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw on January 14-15.
The Bangladesh commerce secretary, Mahbub Ahmed and Myanmar’s deputy minister of the commerce Pwint San will lead their respective delegations to the talks, which was originally slated for January 9-10.
The draft of the proposed bilateral treaty, styled, ‘Bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar’ was sent to Myanmar government about three months back for their feedback, a senior trade official said.
‘We will pursue the Myanmar side to come forward for signing the investment promotion agreement as soon as possible to attract their capital in our productive sector,’ the trade official, who has been included in the Bangladesh delegation for Myanmar tour, told New Age on Thursday.
Bangladesh maintains one of the most liberal investment regimes in the world for foreign corporate investment, he added.
‘The objective of the proposed agreement is to promote and protect the interests of investors of either country in the territory of each other,’ the trade official said, adding, ‘Such agreement increases the comfort level of the investors by assuring a minimum standard of treatment.’
‘Each contracting party shall accord facilities to investors of the other contracting party, in respect of returns on their investments, treatment which shall not be less favourable than that accorded to investors of any third state,’ reads the draft agreement.
Commerce ministry officials said that they were expecting a major breakthrough in the meeting after a direct air link had been established between the two neighbours on December 9 ending a six-year negotiation on direct air connectivity.
Trade experts in the commerce ministry said that a bilateral investment agreement, the establishment of wholesale markets at the Bangladesh-Myanmar frontiers, cooperation in the fisheries and livestock sector, the import of hydroelectric power and natural gas from Myanmar and the establishment of a joint-venture fertiliser plant in Bangladesh using Myanmar gas were some of the priorities likely to come up at the talks.
They said that the issues were not new but they had been stalled for lack of direction.
‘We expect this time that Myanmar officials now have a green signal from their  leaders towards forging deeper trade relations with Bangladesh,’ a trade official said.
Bangladesh exported goods worth $13.67 million to Myanmar against an import of worth $84 million from that country in the 2012-13 financial year.
Major export items from Bangladesh include chemical and agricultural products, frozen fish, leather and jute goods.

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