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Sign free trade pact with India: Dhaka economists

world Updated: Apr 13, 2010 13:15 IST

Bangladesh should sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India, two Bangladeshi economists have recommended.

They cited the success of India's FTA with Sri Lanka and the latter's FTA with Pakistan at a seminar in Dhaka Monday.

Khandaker Ibrahim Khaled, former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, and Selim Raihan, editor of Bangladesh Economic Outlook, a new quarterly journal, said that as Bangladesh was facing odds in Western markets, it should look for markets of neighbouring countries.

They said Bangladesh should go for bilateral FTA with India as the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) might not to be very effective.

Khaled said the Sri Lankan economy was seeing increased exports and higher investment from India and Pakistan after FTAs were signed.

Raihan said a bilateral treaty with India would open up a market with over one billion consumers to Bangladesh.

Past governments in Dhaka have shown reservations about signing FTA with India.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has resumed the debate on the subject after her India visit in January when she said Bangladesh couldn't live in isolation "with its windows closed".