Bangladesh and India have agreed to start negotiations within the calendar year 2022 for signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart directed trade officials on both sides to complete these negotiations at the earliest and in time for Bangladesh's final graduation from LDC status.
The two leaders welcomed the recent finalization of a joint feasibility study which recommended that CEPA will be beneficial for both countries, according to the joint statement issued on Wednesday.
Modi on Tuesday said Bangladesh is India's largest development partner and their largest trade partner in the region.
"Today, India is the largest market in Asia for Bangladesh's exports. To further accelerate this growth, we will soon start discussions on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement," he said.
With the expansion of connectivity between the two countries, and the development of trade infrastructure on the border, the two economies will be able to connect more with each other, support each other, Modi said, adding that their bilateral trade is growing rapidly.
During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to Bangladesh from March 26 to 27 last year, both sides discussed the prospects of entering into a CEPA.
To enhance trade between the two countries, both Prime Ministers underscored the need for removal of non-tariff barriers.
President of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) Abdul Matlub Ahmad has said the CEPA, now under discussion, will be a win-win for both the countries.
Reiterating the importance of facilitating trade between the two countries, Hasina and Modi stressed the urgent need for up-gradation of infrastructure and facilities at the Land Customs Stations/Land Ports, and for removal of port restrictions and other non-tariff barriers at identified Land Custom Stations, according to the joint statement.
The Indian side reiterated its request for at least one major land port without port restrictions or negative list of restrictions, on the border with North Eastern States of India, for easier market access, starting with ICP Agartala-Akhaura.
Both leaders welcomed the progress made on India's proposal to fund the development of a second freight gate at Petrapole-Benapole ICP and directed the officials to complete the work at the earliest.