Against the backdrop of export price hike of onion in India, a high-powered government delegation will visit Myanmar shortly to pursue channelling the essential item quickly from that country to Bangladesh to cool the local market, sources said.
The four-member delegation, headed by the additional secretary (Import) of the ministry of commerce (MoC), Manoj Kumar Roy, will also discuss with the Myanmar authority the supply of other agricultural items, including gram, garlic and ginger, from that country, so that Bangladesh can reduce dependence on India for such items.
"We want to import the items from other neighbouring counties as well to reduce dependence on one particular country," Mr Roy told the FE Thursday.
He said: "We become helpless when the main sourcing country slaps a ban or raise the export price of any item. So, we are in search for alternative sources to meet immediate needs and reduce dependence on one country."
Bangladesh every year imports 0.6 million tonnes of onion from India while a small volume of it comes from Myanmar through unofficial channels. India recently fixed the export price of onion at US$ 650 per tonne from $350. Resultantly the price of the item in Bangladesh shot up to Tk 80 per kilogramme (kg) at the retail level.
As per the price list of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) the imported onion was being sold Thursday at prices ranging between Tk 70 and Tk 75 and the local variety Tk 62 to Tk 68 per kg at the retail level.
Mr Roy, quoting Bangladesh embassy officials in Yangon, said onion price in the capital was slightly up but in the border area it was below $400 per tonne. "The TCB's onion from Myanmar will reach Bangladesh next week. So we are hopeful the prices will go down soon at the retail level," he added.
During the visit the Bangladesh delegation will meet with high-ups of the neighbouring country's commerce ministry, department of trade, department of border trade, and state trading corporation to discuss import of agricultural items from there.
"Myanmar produces a good volume of agricultural items. If we can reach an agreement, Bangladesh can benefit by importing those items," said Mr Roy.
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