China is set to grant duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) market access for all Bangladeshi products shortly, trade officials said.
Except tobacco and maize, all the major Bangladeshi products like apparel, leather, jute and jute goods, medicine and frozen fish will be on the list.
Bangladesh is going to get the facility under a Chinese zero-tariff treatment scheme for least developed countries (LDCs).
To this end, Chinese ambassador in Dhaka Zhang Zuo and commerce secretary Mofizul Islam will sign a ‘letter of exchange’ soon, the officials added.
Last Thursday, economic and commercial counsellor Li Guangjuan of Chinese embassy confirmed the matter to the commerce ministry in a letter.
The Chinese response came ten months after Bangladesh had formally agreed to sign the letter to avail the benefit.
Once a deal is done, Bangladesh’s exportables under 97 per cent of Chinese tariff lines will enjoy the zero-duty benefit.
A senior official in Dhaka told the FE on Sunday that Bangladesh has 7,100 tariff lines, but Chinese tariff lines are a little bit higher in number.
Since the scheme grants zero-duty treatment for 97 per cent Chinese tariff lines, it will almost cover 99 per cent of Bangladesh tariff lines, he said.
“Almost all our export products will enjoy the benefit,” the official continued.
Sources said Bangladeshi goods under 60 per cent Chinese tariff lines currently enjoy the zero-tariff benefit.
Once the deal is signed, the figure will rise to 97 per cent of Chinese tariff lines, they added.
China offered the DFQF facility for products under its 60 per cent tariff lines to all the LDCs in 2010.
The offer was made as per the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) declaration at the sixth ministerial council in Hong Kong in 2005.
Later, Beijing raised the facility to 97 per cent of its tariff lines for the LDCs that had signed the letters of exchange with it by 2015.
But it then stipulated that those who signed the letters would be ineligible for further benefits in the Chinese market under any other multilateral or regional pacts.
As Bangladesh did not sign the ‘letter of exchange’ by 2015, it was not eligible to avail the benefit under the 97 per cent of Chinese tariff lines.
Last April, Dhaka decided to avail the zero-duty facility by dropping the benefits it enjoys in Chinese market under the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA).
Subsequently, it informed China of its intent to sign the ‘letter of exchange’ to avail the benefit.
Another official said as Bangladesh is likely to graduate to a developing country by 2024, there is scope to enjoy the DFQF facility for five more years.
Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and China is more than $11 billion.
Bangladesh’s imports from China stood at $10.19 billion in the fiscal year 2016-17 and its exports to the world’s second-largest economy at $949.41 million.