Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Two-day-long expert-level talks on expansion of bilateral trade by establishing direct banking arrangements between Bangladesh and Myanmar began in the capital here on Monday, officials said.

A four-member team, headed by Manng Manng, Director of Account Department of the Central Bank of Myanmar, met with five selected local commercial banks’ official on the day to discuss establishing direct banking relations between the two countries.

The meeting also discussed about strengthening bilateral banking transactions under the existing Asian Clearing Union (ACU) mechanism, the officials and bankers said.  

The ACU is an arrangement among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to facilitate intra-regional transactions among the participating central banks on a multilateral basis.

The ACU started its operations in November 1975 to help boost trade relations among its member countries. Bangladesh and Burma joined the union as the sixth and seventh members in 1976 and 1977 respectively. Bhutan joined the ACU on December 9, 1999.

The final round of talks will be held on today (Tuesday) with the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central bank, officials.

BB Senior Executive Director Khandakar Muzharul Haque inaugurated the meeting held at the conference room of the central bank in the capital, Dhaka on Monday morning while other BB officials were present.

“We expect that establishing direct letter of credit (LC) relationships between the two countries would be possible,” Shamsul Alam, Deputy Managing Director of the National Credit and Commerce (NCC) Bank Limited, told BBN after the meeting.

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

The selected five banks, which represented all 48 scheduled banks of Bangladesh, are Sonali Bank Limited, Janata Bank Limited, AB Bank Limited, NCC Bank Limited and Standard Chartered Bank

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

The country’s importers are now settling 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.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-06October09-9:59 am (BST)