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.
The DRI asked the customs wing to look carefully into the origin certificates issued for such consignments by Bangladesh trade bodies, The Economic Times reported on Monday.
The move comes after the DRI issued a show-cause notice in early August to Future Enterprises on 83 garment consignments, allegedly imported from third countries and routed via Bangladesh to take advantage of zero import duty, according to the report.
The agency fears that the route could be abused by other importers and wants the customs to remain alert, it added.
“This is unrealistic. They have made an absurd allegation in the media,” EPB Deputy Director Anup Kanti Saha told bdnews24.com.
He said India was yet to officially inform Bangladesh authorities of the issue.
“We will give the response if they tell us through the related authorities,” he said.
On July 13, India’s DRI also 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 him involved more than $2 million of unpaid customs duties on garment imports, Reuters reported citing a government statement.
Asked about the allegations against Future Group, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association or BGMEA President Rubana Huq told bdnews24.com: “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 levelled, 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 also said such malpractices were “impossible”.
He alleged propaganda 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.