Bangladesh would request Russia to simplify their customs procedure and allow duty-free access of more products from the country to their market during an upcoming visit of a Bangladesh delegation to Moscow, officials said.
They said Bangladesh has the potential to increase its exports to Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
But the country could not increase its export at the desired level to those countries due to their complex customs procedures, according to the ministry of commerce (MoC).
At present, Russia provides tariff preference to 48 items, including jute and jute goods, shrimps, tea, silk and rice, etc.
A high-powered delegation comprised of government officials and businessmen will visit the Russian Federation and CIS soon, a high official at the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) told the FE.
"The delegation will request the Kremlin to simplify their customs procedures and give duty-free market access for all export items for increasing bilateral trade and businesses," EPB vice-chairman Mafruha Sultana said.
During the visit, the delegation will request their Russian counterpart to include readymade garments (RMG), leather and leather goods, and ceramics to the Russian tariff preference list.
Besides, establishing direct banking relationship between the two countries will also get priority on the agenda of discussion.
The delegation will also invite the Russian entrepreneurs to take the opportunity of the existing liberal package of investment facilities and incentives in Bangladesh.
They will also propose the Russian government to strengthen the inter-government commission on trade to boost bilateral trade between the two countries.
Earlier, Russia had expressed its interest to increase the bilateral trade with Bangladesh to the tune of around US$ 1.0 billion in next few years.
Russian Ambassador in Dhaka in July 2016 proposed Bangladesh to use its own currency for mutual trade, aimed at reducing dependence on the US dollar.
Russian investors might take advantage of these opportunities by setting up industries in joint venture or full ownership in various sectors like power, mining, agro-processing, leather, electrical and electronics, engineering and pharmaceuticals etc, according to the MoC.
At present, Bangladesh has no commercial wing in its embassies in the CIS.
Local businessmen thought that the commercial wings/attachés in the CIS would help strengthen the businesses and lead to increase the bilateral trade.
Meanwhile, the Ukraine requested the Bangladesh government to set up commercial wings in each embassy or by creating position of honorary commercial attachés in the CIS.
"Bangladesh could increase its business volume by at least US$2 billion from Ukraine and $10 billion from other countries of CIS had there been commercial wings/commercial attachés there," said a letter sent by the Association of Humanitarian, Cultural and Economic Relation between Ukraine and Bangladesh to the MoC recently.
There were, however, some complications related to customs that had affected smooth trade with CIS and the Russian Federation. The government has taken initiatives to address the problems, according to the MoC.
"The business communities of the CIS along with Ukraine are keen to expand business with Bangladesh in the days to come," the letter said.
The CIS countries have also offered infrastructure support to Bangladesh in setting up offices of the commercial attachés there, it mentioned.
The present trade volume between Bangladesh and Russia stands at around US$ 543.59 million, and the balance of trade is tilted in favour of Russia.
Bangladesh exported goods worth US$ 29.26 million to Russia and imported goods worth $ 70.80 million during the fiscal year (FY) 2013-14.
Bangladesh exported goods worth US$ 201.91 million to Ukraine while it imported goods worth $ 21,251.407 million during the fiscal year (FY) 2015-16, according to Bangladesh Bank and the Export Promotion Bureau.