Bangladesh and Pakistan will soon start formal negotiations on bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in a bid to sign the deal by next September, Foreign Minister Morshed Khan said in the city Wednesday, reports UNB.
Islamabad also agreed to introduce passenger-cum-cargo service between Dhaka and Karachi bringing in Boeing-747 jets to carry Bangladeshi export goods, including RMG, to Pakistan and beyond for lack of a direct shipping link. Initially, this service will operate once a week.
Briefing newsmen on the outcome of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's 3-day official visit to Pakistan, Khan said Bangladesh sought Pakistan's cooperation at the next meetings of WTO in Geneva and Washington so that some Bangladeshi garment items could get duty-free access to the US market.
"We've discussed each and every issue of our bilateral interests with main focus on trade and economic cooperation," he told the press briefing at the Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Minister said Pakistan has agreed to give duty-free access to 73 Bangladeshi items under nine categories, and it would be easier with a bilateral FTA in place. But as an early harvest, some more Bangladeshi items may get the duty-free access.
Asked about the longstanding issue of repatriation of some 250,000 stranded Pakistanis and apportionment of pre-independence assets, he said: "We've been discussing the issue and it will continue."
Pressed further, Khan said: "We've not let the issue die down, we've kept it alive."
On the easing of visa regime, he said Pakistan has agreed to liberalise visa for professionals and businesses.
The Foreign Minister said the Pakistan government also agreed to increase scholarships for Hossain and FPCCI President Chowdhury Muhammad Saeed signed the MoU on behalf of their respective chambers.
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia was present at the signing ceremony.
In the accord, the two apex bodies agreed to exchange professional expertise and advice relating to services rendered to their respective members.
"The parties will also exchange information about products and industrial processes that may be available, industrial training, sources of financing offers and requests for joint ventures and licensing and identification of possible partners," FBCCI said Wednesday.
The federations will also support activities such as seminars, workshops, conferences participated by specialists of Pakistan and Bangladesh to promote cooperation in these areas.