India grants duty-free entry to all BD goods

India grants duty-free entry to all BD goods
Nazmul Ahsan

India has granted duty-free access of all products from five least developed member nations of South Asian Associations for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Bangladesh, except wine and tobacco, to its market, according to an official notification of the Indian government.

A notification was issued by Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs on November 9 last to this effect.

Wine and tobacco falling under 25 categories have been made ineligible for the benefit.

“We are very happy that India has provided duty-free access to all products, except different categories of wine and tobacco, from Bangladesh,” Md Ghulam Hossain, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, told the FE.

“With India offering the facility, a longstanding demand of Bangladesh has been fulfilled,” he added.

He said the milestone decision made by India will be implemented under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement. The similar facility will also be applicable to Nepal, Afghanistan, the Maldives and Bhutan, which are also signatories to the SAFTA accord.

The items falling under the broad categories of wine and tobacco are- Beer made from malt, Sparkling wine, other wine; Grape must with fermentation prevented or arrested by the addition of alcohol, other grape must, vermouth and other wine of fresh grapes flavoured with plants or aromatic substances, other fermented beverages (for example, cider, perry mead); mixtures of fermented beverages and non-alcoholic beverages, not elsewhere specified or included, undenatured ethyl alcohol of an alcoholic strength by volume of 80% vol or higher, spirits obtained by distilling grape wine or grape marc, whiskies, Rum and tafia, Gin and Geneva, Vodka, Liqueurs and cordials, maize (corn), unmanufactured tobacco not stemmed or stripped, Tobacco partly or wholly stemmed or stripped, Tobacco refuse, Cigars, cheroots and cigarillos containing tobacco, Cigarettes containing tobacco, Smoking tobacco whether or not containing tobacco substitutes in any proportion, Homogenised or reconstituted tobacco and other tobacco.

Annisul Huq, former president FBCCI, termed the goodwill gesture of Indian government a welcome step forward, but he urged the Indian authorities to remove all sorts of non-tariff and para-tariff barriers to translate its gesture into a meaningful initiative.

“I congratulate both Indian government for their generous step and the commerce ministry of Bangladesh for their persistent efforts for getting duty-free access to Indian market,” Annisul Huq, former FBCCI told the FE on Sunday.

“Now, it is the responsibility of Indian authority to remove non-tariff and para-tariff barriers to make the offer meaningful to Bangladeshi exporters.”

Ghulam Hossain said businessmen of Bangladesh can tap the opportunity of entering the large Indian market capitalizing the duty-free facility offered by the Indian government.

“Getting into the Indian market meaningfully is a challenging task for our businessmen which I believe our business people would be able to accomplish,” commerce secretary said.

Bangladesh exported goods worth $512 million to India in 2010-2011 fiscal year against its import of goods worth about $4.6 billion from India.


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