KATHMANDU, March 23: Nepal and Bangladesh have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on strengthening sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) cooperation.
During the two-day Bangladesh visit of President Bidya Devi Bhandari, the two countries entered into the MoU on Tuesday, reports The Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper. Dinesh Bhattarai, secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and Bangladeshi Agriculture Ministry’s Senior Secretary Md Mesbaul Islam signed the MoU on behalf of their countries.
The two countries have been seeking to relax the SPS measures to boost bilateral trade of farm and other organic products. In the bilateral trade talk held earlier, the two countries agreed in principle to conclude an agreement to harmonise the standards for SPS and technical barriers to trade (TBT) between Nepal’s Department of Food Technology and Quality Control and its Bangladeshi counterpart.
Both Nepal and Bangladesh are members of a number of regional groupings such as the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta), Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec). Although the volume of bilateral trade has been increasing by a notable amount in recent days, both the countries have been facing a number of non-tariff barriers in cross-country trade.
Bangladesh has also been pushing Nepal to sign the Preferential Trade Agreement for a long time. This time too, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid emphasis before President Bhandari to sign the agreement, which will allow the Bangladeshi products duty-free access to Nepal.
In addition to SPS cooperation, the two countries also inked an MoU on promoting tourism cooperation, cultural exchange programs and letter of exchange on Rohanpur-Singhabad Railway Route amendment to the Nepal-Bangladesh Transit Agreement.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has also expressed its interest in signing a power trade agreement with Nepal. Bangladesh has been seeking to purchase around 9,000 MW of electricity from Nepal by 2040.