Dhaka, Sep 16 (IANS): Bangladeshi Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and his counterpart Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan have signed a framework on trade and investment between the two countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka said in a statement on Thursday.
The Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA), the first of this kind between Australia and Bangladesh in the last five decades, is expected to provide a platform for institutionalised economic interactions and to open newer opportunities for trade and investment between the two countries, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
It said a joint working group is expected to offer a mechanism to take forward discussion to realize full potentials of trade and investment.
While speaking at a virtual signing ceremony on Wednesday, Minister Tipu Munshi said: "I am profoundly happy that TIFA has been signed in the year while Bangladesh is celebrating the golden jubilee of independence and the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
"We would expect the TIFA to address all relevant questions including retention of the Duty-Free Quota-Free (DFQF) treatment for Bangladesh in the post LDC graduation (least developed countries), trade liberalisation, creating a conducive atmosphere for greater trade in services and flow of investment."
He invited his Australian counterpart to visit Dhaka soon.
Tehan warmly accepted the invitation and promised to visit Bangladesh next year with a trade and investment delegation.
He assured Bangladesh of the continuation of DFQF treatment pending the next review which is not scheduled in the foreseeable future.
"Australian has the potential to meet Bangladesh's increasing education, training and energy needs," he added.
Bangladesh-Australia bilateral trade has grown six times over the past decade, reaching $2.6 billion last year.
Ready-made garment, agriculture, food and education services were key drivers of this growth.
Despite not being an elaborate and legally binding agreement, TIFA can help add new tradeable items from both sides and facilitate bilateral trade and investment.
Australia proposed to host the inaugural meeting of the joint working group in early 2022.