Bangladesh is optimistic about signing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) to boost trade, according to Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, who said there is a possibility of an increase in export of readymade garments, tobacco, leather and leather goods, when the agreement reduces the high 35 per cent tariff rate.

He was on a visit to MERCOSUR member States—Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay—from August 20 to 24. The 15-member delegation included the Bangladesh ambassador to Brazil, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Rubana Huq, pharmaceutical industry representatives, and leaders of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce.

The Minister proposed signing the FTA at a seminar in Sao Paola and the participating countries proposed starting technical discussion, report quoted him as saying. MERCOSUR members will discuss Bangladesh’s proposals in December and take a decision, he said.

The Minister also requested Brazil to cut high taxation rate on RMG or withdraw it. Brazil assured to consider withdrawing anti-dumping duty on jute goods, he said. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between BGMEA and the Sao Paulo Chamber of Commerce. A decision was taken to sign an MoU between BGMEA and the Brazilian Cotton Producers Association.