Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Country’s top business leaders has placed a number of recommendations, including withdrawal of the existing non-tariff barriers, simplifying customs facilities and reducing the trade deficit between India and Bangladesh.

They put forward the suggestions at a press conference organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at its office in Dhaka on Sunday.

President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Amjad Khan Chowdhury, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce Industry (DCCI) Asif Ibrahim, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Selim Osman also spoke on the occasion.

The conference was organised ahead of the two-day visit of Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and chief ministers of India’s five north-eastern states of Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Paschimbanga.

The FBCCI President AK Azad expressed his fear that the trade gap between the two nations would be further widened in the coming days unless the existing non-tariff barriers were withdrawn.

“We urge Indian government to take effective measures in this regard by providing duty-free access to our products there,” the FBCCI chief said.

Bangladesh imported Indian products worth $4570 million in fiscal year 2010-11 (FY11) against $512.5 million that they exported to India. In FY10, the trade figures were $3202 million and $321 million respectively.

He calculated that the trade deficit was $4057 million in FY11 and $2900 million in FY10. “So the trade gap between the countries is gradually increasing. It’s not a good thing for the country. It should be reduced.”

The country’s apex body chief hailed the recent joint move to withdraw 61 items, including garments and jute bags, from its sensitive list of 480 items. “The trade gap between the nations will definitely come down if the initiative is being implemented.”

He also urged Indian authority to provide easy access of Bangladeshi services to India side by side the duty and quota-free entry of its products as Bangladesh has already liberalised the policy for investments and services for foreigners, including India.

The MCCI President Amjad Khan Chowdhury said visa-related problem is the biggest barrier to trade relations between the two neighbouring countries.

“We’ll not be economically benefited by any agreement if we do not have Visa on Arrival facility,” Mr. Khan added.

BBN/SSR/AD-05Sept11-9:30 am (BST)