Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– A Burmese technical team arrives in Dhaka on Sunday for talks on expansion of bilateral trade through enhancing banking transactions between the two countries, officials said in Dhaka.

“We want to boost bilateral trade through strengthening banking transaction between the two countries,” Senior Executive Director of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) Khandakar Muzharul Haque told BBN in the capital, Dhaka on Saturday.

During the two-day visit, the four-member team, headed by a senior official of the central bank of Myanmar, will meet high officials of the central bank and commercial banks.

The executive director also said the officials will try to work out the modalities of banking transactions between Bangladesh and Burma, officially known as Myanmar during the meetings.

The central bank of Bangladesh has already selected five commercial banks, including a foreign bank, to meet the technical team on Monday to find out ways to strengthen bilateral banking transactions between the two countries, the BB officials added.

The Burma’s team is scheduled to visit Bangladesh from October 4-6 after the tour of a Bangladesh technical team to the Southeast Asian country nearly eight months ago.

A four-member team, headed by BB Deputy Governor Ziaul Hasan Siddiqui, visited Burma in February this year to discuss simplification of the payment procedure through a direct banking arrangement between the two countries, they added.

Currently, payments for foreign trade are settled between the two countries through a third country like Singapore.

Bangladesh’s importers now settle their payments for bulk exports through bank drafts issued by foreign banks in a third country. An importer is entitled to get bank draft against import worth US$ 10,000-$20,000 at a time under the existing border trade arrangement.

“We’re facing problems when we import large quantity and a number of drafts have to be issued, which take time for settlement through a third country like Singapore,” President of the Cox’s Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industry Abdul Sukkur told BBN.

He also said banking transactions should be strengthened immediately to expedite bilateral trade between the two countries.

The exporters of Burma do not prefer to export their products through opening of letters of credit (LCs) due to imposition of investment and trade sanctions on the Southeast Asian country by the United States, the European Union and Canada.

The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries has been quite ‘insignificant’ for years because of lack of proper initiatives. The balance of trade, according to officials, has remained in favour of Burma over the past 13 years.

However, a review of bilateral trade between the two countries shows that the trade balance was in favour of Bangladesh from 1991-92 to 1995-96. But in 1996-97 it tilted in favour of Burma.

Dhaka exported goods and commodities worth only US$9.17 million to Rangoon in 2008-09 while its imports during the period stood at $66.49 million, the data showed.

Bangladesh mainly exports pharmaceutical products, leather, woven garments and other manufacturing goods to Burma and imports wood articles, vegetable products, processed food and fish.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-04October09-1:55 am (BST)