The government will soon finalise a work plan for forming a joint trade council with Cambodia considering the potential business opportunities, officials said.
Under the move, the ministry of commerce (MoC) held a meeting recently, which stressed the need for finalising the work plan to the formation of Joint Trade Council (JTC) between Bangladesh and Cambodia.
"We discussed the issue in our recent meeting. We will soon finalise work plan to the formation of joint trade council between Bangladesh and Cambodia," acting commerce secretary Shubhashish Bose told the FE.
The ministry of commerce has received the recommendations from different ministries to finalise the work plan for the joint commission with Cambodia.
After finalising the work plan, Bangladesh will send a draft proposal on the commission to Cambodia, according to the ministry. There will be an inter-ministerial meeting before finalising the work plan for JTC with Cambodia, it said.
The ministries and government agencies to be involved in the JTC groundwork are ministries of foreign affairs, civil aviation and tourism, textiles and jute, industries, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Tariff Commission, Export Promotion Bureau and the National Board of Revenue.
The Commerce Ministry has taken the step following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Cambodia from June 16 to June 18, 2014.
During her visit, the two countries issued a joint statement that stressed the need for the formation of a joint council.
The issue of forming the council was also discussed during visit of the then senior secretary of the MoC to Cambodia in January. Bangladesh and Cambodia signed a bilateral trade agreement on August 4, 2006.
The two countries agreed to form the JTC for strengthening bilateral cooperation in 2010. But since then, there has been no tangible development in this respect, the ministry officials said.
Bangladesh's major exports to Cambodia include ready-made garments, footwear, leather and leather goods, tea, jute and jute goods, knitwear, pharmaceuticals, tableware, home linen, textiles, seafood and marine products, potatoes, light engineering products, spices, cosmetic, ceramic and melamine products. The country imports mainly edible oil, cotton, clinker and yarn etc.
Bangladesh exported goods worth US$4.37 million to Cambodia against $1.8 million imports in the fiscal year (FY) 2015-16.
The balance of trade is tilting in favour of Bangladesh in the last few years.