China is to extend duty-free benefits to 17 more products from Bangladesh, including garment items, in a bid to strengthen trade relations between the two countries. 

The duty-free access was agreed at the 14th session of the biannual Bangladesh-China Joint Economic Commission, held at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in Dhaka on Monday (22 August). Products will now include synthetic fibre, silk waste, short boots and some leather items.

These will be added to the list of 4,700 products, mostly garments, for which China has long been providing duty-free benefits. 

The team visiting from China was also understood to have showed interest in investing in an apparel zone being set up in the Munshiganj District, near the Dhaka-Chittagong highway.

Bangladesh's Ministry of Finance said the core objective of the meeting was to explore enhanced cooperation in bilateral trade, economic and investment. 

"Bilateral trade and economic relationship was reviewed in the meeting," minutes of the meeting read. "Implementation of the economic and trade arrangement agreed upon by leaders of the two countries was also reviewed. Issues related to strengthening cooperation on Chinese assistance to Bangladesh; enhancing cooperation on major projects strengthening the cooperation on trade and investment; and promotion of the cooperation on industrial zones were discussed in the meeting. 

"Bangladesh requested China to increase financial assistance under grant and concessional loan. Bangladesh also requested these Chinese side to reduce the trade imbalance to a reasonable level."

Both sides reiterated their desire to further strengthen bilateral relations. 

The 15th meeting of the Joint Commission will be held in China in 2018 on a date to be agreed.