Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina have agreed on the need to remove non-tariff barriers to increase bilateral trade. They also decided to fast-track the on-going joint study on the feasibility of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), per a joint statement issued after a bilateral meeting on Saturday.

As many as five MoUs were signed between the two countries during the Indian PM’s visit on March 26-27. These include ones in areas such as disaster management, bilateral trade remedies, ICT Equipment supplies and establishment of sports facilities. There was also an MoU between Bangladesh National Cadet Corps and National Cadet Corps of India.

PM Modi had a series of engagements during his Bangladesh visit including meetings with political leaders of opposition parties and the Foreign Minister. He also offered prayers at the Hari Mandir in Orakandi.

To ensure that bilateral trade continues to flourish, both leaders stressed the need for predictability of trade policies, regulations and procedures.

“Bangladesh side requested for lifting the new policy of Indian Customs stipulating verification of certificates of origin issued from Bangladesh. The Indian side conveyed that under the provisions of the new Customs rules, in the event of a conflict between a provision of these rules and rules of origin of a trade agreement, the provisions of the rules of origin of the trade agreement shall prevail,” the statement said.

India reiterated its request for at least one major land port without port restrictions or with negative list of restrictions, on the border with North Eastern Region of India, for easier market access, starting with ICP Agartala-Akhaura, the statement said.

The two Prime Ministers agreed that in the spirit of liberalising trade between the two countries, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI) and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) would collaborate for the capacity building and development of testing and Lab facilities, the statement pointed out..

Both sides also emphasised on expeditious conclusion of the ongoing joint study on the prospects of entering into a CEPA.

India agreed to consider Bangladesh’s request for withdrawal of anti-dumping duties on jute import from the country. “Bangladesh side invited Indian investment in the jute mills of Bangladesh under public-private partnership as part of the government’s decision to revitalise and modernize the jute sector through manufacturing of value added and diversified jute products,” the statement said.

To resolve the contentious issue of water sharing, the two leaders directed their respective Ministries of Water Resources to work towards an early conclusion of the Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six common rivers, namely, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.

PM Modi’s visit to Bangladesh was on account of three big events-Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Centenary birth celebrations, 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Bangladesh and India and 50 years of Bangladesh liberation war.