The new set of rules enforced by India is not applicable exclusively to Bangladesh, but the preferential arrangement of all countries will come under its purview.
The new rules say that importers have to collect all the information from their exporters. This does not happen generally; this is contrary to normal practice. This could be detrimental to exports from Bangladesh to India.
As a signatory country, India has an obligation to follow the Safta rules. According to Safta, the verification of certificates of origin can be done by the Export Promotion Bureau of Bangladesh. As an importing country, Indian customs authority cannot verify those directly.
In that case, Bangladesh may want to know from India bilaterally why it has made the new rules.
Bangladesh can also remind India that the latter should abide by Safta rules.
India has signed Safta. So it should find a way to exempt Bangladesh from the new rules in compliance with the Safta provisions. Bilateral talks can ease these complications.
It's a matter of trust. The certificates of origin being issued by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) are verified. If India does not believe those, then how can it believe the information that an exporter from Bangladesh will give?
They will not be able to verify whether the information is correct or not. From this point of view, there is no benefit for India in enforcing the new rules. But giving more power to customs officers will make the allowance or rejection of the duty-free facility dependent on their discretion.
The Safta treaty clearly states how the certificates of origin will be verified. The information that the EPB shares with the customs authority of India accurately under Safta is very confidential. According to Safta provisions, the exporters and importers are not informed about this information.
But according to the new rules made by India, Bangladeshi exporters also have to inform their importers about their business information. The importers will know the business information of the exporters – this is out of practice.
Dr Mostafa Abid Khan gave his opinions to Abul Kashem over the phone.
Dr Mostafa Abid Khan is a member of Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission.