By Md. Kamruzzaman
Dhaka, Bangladesh: A top Bangladesh’s trade body leader at an international business convention virtually held on Friday said that bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Pakistan will be steered up in 2021 due to easing visas for Bangladeshi nationals by Pakistan.
Trade volume between the two South Asian states in the 2019-2020 fiscal year were $594 million, says top Bangladeshi trade body leader
Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (RCCI) organized the convention while 55 trade bodies’ presidents from different countries and Pakistan envoy in Dhaka participated in the program.
Emphasizing the more active role of both countries in the platforms like D-8, SAARC and OIC, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Rizwan Rahman, said at the convention that “easy visas for Bangladeshi citizens by Pakistan will steer up trade between the two South Asian nations in the year 2021 and onward”.
Due to socio-political tensions and regional politics, the issuance of visas for citizens and officials of both countries was going through very slow courses for the last couple of years.
The frowzy tie, however, began improving in November 2019 through the approval of Bangladesh for a new Pakistani High Commissioner in Dhaka after a long vacancy of 20 months in the post.
In February 2020, the new Pakistani envoy, Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, presented his credential to Bangladesh’s President M Abdul Hamid and was cordially welcomed by Bangladeshi president as part of the country’s foreign policy “Friendship towards all, malice towards none”.
Later, at different times Siddiqui called on and held meetings with Bangladesh’s premier Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and leaders of different business bodies.
In early January this year, Pakistan envoy confirmed that Islamabad has lifted all restrictions on visas for Bangladeshi citizens following a meeting with Alam.
Meanwhile, a circular issued on Friday by the Pakistan embassy in Dhaka said that all visa applications for Bangladeshi citizens will be processed through the online visa portal (https://visa.nadra.gov.pk/) from Feb. 1, 2021.
Underlying the ongoing developments between Dhaka and Islamabad and prospects of bilateral trade, Rahman added that both countries should hold more seminars and training sessions for bolstering mutual trade and investment.
“Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Pakistan in 2019-2020 fiscal year was $594 million. Of them Bangladesh’s export volume was only $50 million while importing $544 million”, Rahman said.
Top export products from Bangladesh to Pakistan in the fiscal year were jute, jute goods, agricultural products, cotton, woven garments and chemical products, he pointed out.
Speaking on import items by Bangladesh from Pakistan the business leader, however, mentioned textile articles, mineral products, vegetables, and chemical products.
Referring to a recently held business conference organized by DCCI in the current month of January and participation of 57 Pakistani enterprises in that conference, he added that the Bangladesh government has identified 62 potential sectors including readymade garments, pharmaceuticals, tourism, agriculture, food processing, plastic goods, ICT and electrics and electronics for investment by local and foreign companies.
To boost bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Pakistan he suggested holding more trade fairs, exchanging views between businessmen, organizing seminars, symposium and training on possible business sectors.
“Young entrepreneurs from Pakistan can participate in those virtual training on capacity building,” He said, adding that policy dialogue and sharing data on potential sectors between the two states are also important to gear up the existing friendly relations.
Meanwhile, at a meeting between Bangladesh’s Commerce Minister and Pakistan envoy on Wednesday in Dhaka, the two sides agreed to encourage bilateral contacts between private sectors, for the promotion of commercial relations.
The Pakistani envoy also proposed the early holding of the next session of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) between Dhaka and Islamabad.