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Nirmal Barman

Published:
2018-04-24 12:00:41 BdST

Tofail asks Thailand to ease visa for Bangladeshis for better trade, tourism


FT ONLINE

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has urged Thailand to ease the visa regime for Bangladeshis in a move to improve tourism and trade.

Inaugurating the Thailand Week in Dhaka on Monday, he said he found the visa procedure “very difficult”.

“I have discussed this before,” he said, “I request them to ease the visa process so that our people can travel easily for tourism, trade, and healthcare.”

Bangladesh is targeting to take the two-way trade to $2 billion by 2021.

The two countries recently agreed to waive visa for diplomatic passports which the minister said would be implemented by July this year.

Thai Ambassador Panpimon Suwannaponse also spoke at the inauguration of the week.

Products ranging from auto parts to consumer goods, food and beverages to footwear, health and beauty are on display at Pan Pacific Sonargoan Hotel. Seventy-three booths set up this year include those from 45 Thai companies.

The ambassador said the trade show helps both local and Thai businesses to identify business partners in the Bangladeshi market.

Suwannaponse said she is “optimistic” that with joint efforts, the Thai-Bangladesh trade will reach $2 billion by 2021, a target set by the 4th Thai-Bangladesh joint trade committee meeting last year.

“Over the past few years, our two countries have enjoyed a robust bilateral trade. Last year, the two-way trade stood at $1.31 billion up from around $1 billion in 2016,” she said.

Ambassador Suwannaponse also saw an “increased interest” among the Thai and Bangladesh business communities to do business with each other.

This is the 16th such event the Royal Thai Embassy is hosting in Bangladesh in consecutive years. She said this is “another indicator” of the growing commercial relations between the countries.

The top Thai diplomat in Dhaka said her country would remain “strongly committed” to both economic and development partnership in the future when Bangladesh would graduate to a developing country.

Commerce Minister Tofail, however, sought duty-free market access of the products that Bangladesh export.

He said last year, he and his Thai counterpart decided to start discussions on the free-trade agreement or FTA.

“Thailand is our trusted friend and a very important country [for Bangladesh] internationally,” he said.

The Thai Week will end on April 26. Music and fashion show will be performed by Thai artists every day alongside the trade showcase.

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