Safta Trade Liberalisation
B’desh cuts customs duty on 4,610 items for ’13, ’14
The government has cut the customs duties on 4,610 products for 2013 and 2014 calendar years for trade under the South Asian Free Trade Area, officials of the National Board Revenue said. They said that the revenue board on December 17 issued a statutory regulatory order in this connection with retrospective effect from January 1 for the years. ‘The traders who imported products in 2013 and 2014 from the SAARC member countries under the SAFTA will get refund what they paid extra as customs duties,’ a senior official of the revenue board said.
For claiming the refund, importers will have to provide certificates as proof of import under the SAFTA, he said.
The rate of customs duties for raw materials, intermediate, and finished and luxury products has been reduced to different levels from the 2006-base rates of 6 per cent, 13 per cent and 25 per cent.
Now, the applicable customs duties for 2013 calendar year with effect from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 will be 2.025 per cent, 6.2625 per cent and 11.5625 per cent for the products respectively.
For January 2014 to December 2014, the applicable rate is set to 1.35 per cent, 5.175 per cent and 9.375 per cent respectively, he said.
The products include finished products like readymade garment, footwear, foods, fruits, luxury items like electronics products and machinery items.
Under the trade liberalisation programme of the SAFTA agreement which came into effect from January 2006, member countries will have to reduce customs duties to 0-5 per cent by 2016 from base rate.
The revenue board will soon issue another SRO reducing the customs duties for the 2015 and 2016 calendar years to the SAFTA level of 0-5 per cent for all products excluding those are listed as sensitive.
In 2012, Bangladesh reduced customs duties to 2.7 per cent, 7.35 per cent and 13.75 per cent from the base rate.
‘Now the rates have been cut further as a move to make the SAFTA effective through encouraging trade under the agreement,’ a senior NBR official told New Age on Saturday.
In line with the SAFTA agreement, other member countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation members — India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan — also notified the duty cuts or on the process of issuing notification, officials said.
Importers and exporters of member countries will get benefits of the duty cuts which ultimately will boost intra-regional trade among the SAARC nations, they said.
After successful implementation of the trade liberalisation programme, SAARC member countries will start negotiation to further open trade regime in the region to finally establish a free trade area, they added.
Every member country, however, is maintaining separate sensitive list containing most of the important products of other countries’ export baskets which are kept out of the SAFTA duty-cut under the trade liberalisation programme.
Though the countries have been negotiating to reduce the number of products from the sensitive lists, the outcome is very sluggish, officials said.
Currently, the sensitive list of Bangladesh consists of 987 products for the least developed countries and 993 items for the non-LDCs, that of Afghanistan consists of 858 items, that of Bhutan 156 items, that of India 25 items for the LDCs and 614 items for the non-LDCs, that of Maldives 154 items, that of Nepal 998 items for the LDCs and 1,036 items for the non-LDCs, that of Pakistan 936 items and that of Sri Lanka consists of 837 items for the LDCs and 963 items for the non-LDCs.
-With New Age input