Bangladesh recently signed its maiden preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Bhutan to boost bilateral trade. Commerce minister Tipu Munshi and Bhutanese economic affairs minister Lyonpo Loknath Sharma signed the agreement. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering witnessed the signing ceremony virtually.

Bhutan was the first country in the world to recognise Bangladesh’s independence on December 6, 1971.

Around 100 Bangladeshi products, including baby clothes and clothing accessories, men’s trousers and shorts, jackets and blazers, jute and jute goods, leather and leather goods, will get duty-free access to Bhutan, according to Bangla media reports.

Meanwhile, 34 Bhutanese products that will get duty-free access to the Bangladeshi market include orange, apple, ginger, fruit juice, milk, natural honey, wheat or meslin flour, homogenized preparations of jams, fruit jellies, marmalades, food preparations of soybeans, mineral water, wheat bran, quartzite, cement clinker, limestone, wooden particle boards, and wooden furniture.

Both countries will be able to increase the number of items gradually through consultation.

The bilateral trade volume of the two countries was just $12.77 million in the fiscal 2008-09 with Bangladesh’s exports to Bhutan amounting to $0.61 million while it imported goods worth $12.16 million.

The bilateral trade volume reached $49.65 million in the fiscal year 2018-19 out of which Bangladesh’s exports to Bhutan totalled $7.56 million against the imports of $42.09 million.