Bangladesh’s apparel exporters have been concerned with the allegation that Indian business house was importing readymade garments from Bangladesh by availing of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) benefit.
On July 13, India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence arrested Dinesh Maheshwari, executive director and chief financial officer of Future Enterprises Ltd, for flouting import rules that allow duty-free shipments of certain items under the free trade pact with Bangladesh.
The customs fraud charges against the Indian company involved more than $2 million of unpaid customs duties on garment imports,
The company was importing readymade garments from Bangladesh through Petrapole Land Customs Station (LCS) without payment of basic customs duty, Indian uastoms authorities claimed.
Dinesh Maheshwari appears to be guilty of an offence punishable under Section 135 of the Customs Act and has, therefore, been arrested under Section 104 of the Customs Act, on July 12,” according to Indian customs rules
Investigations further revealed that the garments were supplied by third country suppliers based in Dubai and Singapore, but were delivered from Bangladesh after minimal processing, the DRI statement added.
However, Bangladesh export promotion Bureau(EPB) and the BGMEA believe it is impossible for Indian businesses to import through Bangladesh from other countries to take advantage of duty concessions offered under a trade pact.
India’s actual concern lies in Bangladesh’s rise as readymade garment exporter, the Bangladeshi businesses have alleged.
An Export Promotion Bureau or EPB official has also brushed aside as “unrealistic” recent reports on India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence sounding an alarm over such alleged practices.
Asked about the allegations against Future Group, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association or BGMEA President Rubana Huq told the media that : “It looks impossible. I don’t believe someone from Bangladesh is involved in it.”
Such fraudsters, if any, must be identified, but blanket accusations should not be leveled, she said.
The BGMEA president said her association was ready to help if any move to stop such practices alleged by the Indian authorities is made.
Rubana also said the Indian customs intelligence should work in cooperation with their Bangladesh counterparts considering Bangladesh was not supposed to make any profits from the fraud.
“The Indian consumers are the real beneficiaries. They can buy garments at cheaper prices,” she said.
Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association or BKMEA Vice President Shamim Ehsan said that a sinister campaign against Bangladesh’s apparel industry starts whenever it moves ahead of India’s RMG businesses.
“Bangladesh’s RMG products made a good ground in India’s market last fiscal year. I think they are running the propaganda as they are concerned after seeing our export crossing $1 billion,” he said.