Bangladesh’s trade gap with SAARC widens to $2.4 b
DHAKA(Reuters): Bangladesh’s trade deficit with other South Asian countries widened to about $2.4 billion during the first half of the current fiscal year ending in June, a senior official of the central bank said on Tuesday.
During the period, Bangladesh imported goods worth about $2.70 billion from members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) while its exports to those countries totalled nearly $315 million, the official said.
SAARC groups Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
SAARC countries accounted for about 20 percent of Bangladesh’s overall overseas annual trade.
Annisul Huq, president of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the exports of Bangladesh to the SAARC counties were comparatively low as Nepal and Bhutan enjoy duty-free access to the Indian market, while Sri Lanka enjoys free trade facilities with India.
Bangladesh had an overall trade deficit of $4.7 billion with SAARC countries in the previous fiscal year of 2010-11, 47.1 percent higher than in fiscal 2009-10, the central bank said.
“India and Pakistan could be our major trade partners in the region, but both the countries are also our principal competitors in the overseas market,” Huq told Reuters.
Bangladesh has the biggest trade gap with India among the SAARC countries, with an annual deficit of more than $3.0 billion, officials with the commerce ministry said.
The ready-made garment is Bangladesh’s largest export earner, which also depends on India and Pakistan for yarn and fabric.