(Left) Commerce Minister GM Quader visiting a stall of 'India Show' after inaugurating it at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city Monday. (Right) Visitors throng a stall at the opening day of the three-day fair. Focus Bangla
Indian apex trade body leader Monday said there is a two-way potential of US$ 10 billion trade between India and Bangladesh by next two years.
He also identified inadequate infrastructure at border areas of the two neighbouring countries as one of the major challenges hampering trade.
Representatives of both the countries said Bangladesh can be the manufacturing hub for India and exporting those again in India, as well as the neighboring countries, providing regional connectivity.
The observations came at the inaugural session of a three-day Indian trade exhibition, 'The India Show in Bangladesh', at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre with the theme 'Partnerships for Progress' aiming to enhance the two countries' economic engagement.
Commerce Minister GM Quader attended the function as the chief guest. President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) RV Kanoria, Indian Commerce Secretary SR Rao, President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Kazi Akramuddin Ahmed and India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) president Abdul Matlub Ahmad also spoke on the occasion.
FICCI with assistance from the Indian government is hosting the show. The FBCCI and the IBCCI are the Bangladesh partners in the event.
GM Quader said the event would be an important platform for meaningful partnership and formulation of future plans for the expanding business.
He said Bangladesh imported US$ 5 billion worth goods from India in 2011-2012 while it exported half a billion dollar goods. He urged Indian businesses to import jute and jute goods, leather and leather goods and light engineering products from Bangladesh.
On duty-free access of Bangladesh's products to Indian market, Quader said, "It encourages us to export more to India."
"We welcome the recent decision by India on legalizing the cattle trade at borders as we need to bring cattle from Inida
."We're really ready to open more border haats and need more intra-border trade" he further said.
Referring to various moves taken by India to remove non-tariff and para-tariff barriers, Indian Commerce Secretary SR Rao said export to India from Bangladesh has increased 10 fold over the last 10 years.
"India is committed to reduce trade imbalance with Bangladesh.
We welcome more export from Bangladesh to India."
He said Bangladesh exported US$ 55 million worth garments items to India which was US$ 35 million last year, an increase by 150 per cent.
On cotton import from India, Rao said India is committed to concluding cotton package. "We've already given a draft to Commerce Ministry." He also said India will provide 500mw electricity to Bangladesh by the middle of 2013.
FICCI President said, "We need to come together and jointly address the challenges that confront us to realise the actual potential. One of the major challenges is the inadequate infrastructure at our borders which hamper trade."
He said both the countries will have to make it sure that infrastructure development, including trade related infrastructure, is given a priority by both sides.
A 50-member business delegation is already in Dhaka to attend the trade show and make fresh investments and trade agreements between the two countries.
The bilateral trade between the two nations is about US$ 5.2 billion. However, the trade balance is in favour of India.
Around 96 companies representing textile and handicrafts, automobile and spare parts, readymade garments, consumer products, jewellery, healthcare, education, information technology, agro-business and food processing, renewable energy, light engineering and others including , including Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland are showcasing their products here.
Seminars on investment opportunities and B2B sessions have been planned on the sidelines of the exhibition to find out ways to strengthen bilateral business cooperation and increase investment.
The India Show will be open to the business community and public on all three days from 10 am to 8 pm.
Meanwhile, workers and owners of 22 garments Monday organised a massive protest against non-payment of import bills worth US $5.0 million by Indian Garment co Liliput Kidswear Ltd.
The garment factories, which have been deprived of their export payments from the Delhi based importer, staged demonstration outside the three-day single-country exposition of Indian products namely 'India Show' that began at the city's BICC.
The apparel exporters group along with their hundreds of workers and employees demonstrated to keep the attention of the Indian High Commission, Indo-Bangla Chamber of Commerce and Indian Businesses demanding immediate release of export payments from the Indian importer.
The aggrieved Bangladeshi apparel exporters said they have no other options now but to stage demonstrations as neither the government of India nor its business leaders took any practical step to help disbursement of the payments against the exports even after repeated requests.
Abdul Ahad Ansary, Standing Committee Chairman on Labour Arbitration and Education at the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said that twenty-two Bangladeshi garment (RMG) manufacturers shipped their products worth over US$ 5.0 million to Delhi based 'Liliput Kidswear Ltd' 14 months back, but none of them was given any payment until now allegedly due to an evasive attitude of the importer.
They also said the importer has even failed to comply with the gareemnt between two countries to make the payment within January 25, 2013 in six phases of which four should be made by November25 this year".
"The agreement was signed by Department of Commerce, India, Bangladeshi High Commission in Delhi, BGMEA representative, Liliput Kidswear and victim Bangladeshi garments' representatives on July 10 this year," he said.
"Under the agreement, Liliput had to pay the debts by 25 January 2013 in six installments of which four were supposed to be paid by November 25 this year. But the company has not paid a single penny until the date", he added.
Md Rubel Hossain, a worker at the Panshi Knit Pvt Ltd told the FE that they haven't got salaries for three months and the garment management has told them that it will take times due to stuck of payment by a big buyer.
Ahsan Uddin, a worker at Purnima Apparel Ltd, another victim of the debt scam, said he failed to send money to his family in Netrokona last months.
"We've a little idea about any debt or its release procedure by the big players. We just understand that an Indian company has force our life to uncertainty," Ahsan told the FE.
Mamun Islam Khan, chairman of Anupan Fashionwear Ltd, another victim of the payment-dodging, recognised that thousands of workers of the affected factories have been leading an inhuman life as their employers could not make their payments owing to banks' refusal to pay further loans.
Sarder Keramat Ali, Chairman, Standing Committee, Arbitration Knit (Cell-1), BGMEA said nearly 50,000 people are employed in the twenty two factories victimised by the Delhi-based Liliput Kidwear Ltd.