The government has worked out a plan to minimise trade gap with China, a senior trade official said. The plan includes persuading China to give import licences to Chinese retailers, issue multiple visas to Bangladeshi businessman and arrange visits of increased Chinese trade delegations. It also includes seeking Chinese help in establishing fashion institutes in Bangladesh, local infrastructural development and taking part in increased international fairs held in China. The move comes at a time when trade gap with the world’s biggest economy hit a new high of US$ 6.0 billion, even if Dhaka gets duty-free benefits. “Despite having duty-free facility, our businessmen could not do well in boosting exports to China. But import from China is gradually increasing,” vice chairman of EPB Suvashis Bose told the FE. He said that this has prompted his agency to sit with relevant parties to find out ways on how to reduce the trade gap. “There is a good demand of Bangladeshi products in China, but there are certain reasons that hold back increasing exports to China,” he said. “If we can implement the recommendations, we hope, our exports to China will grow,” he said. “China is a friendly country and we hope our negotiation with the government will bring a positive result,” Mr Bose added. President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) A. K. M. Salim Osman said if the recommendations are implemented, garment exporters would be able to increase exports, since China is importing clothes from different countries across the world. “China does not issue import licenses to the retailers, if the government can convince China to issue import license to them, then import from Bangladesh to that country will increase significantly,” he added. The BKMEA president also urged the government to facilitate local raw-material producers to lessen dependence on China, thus make local exporters more competitive in that country. An inter-ministerial meeting, held in February at the commerce ministry, empowered the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) to make recommendations on how to increase merchandise shipment to China, while also narrowing the trade gap. In the last financial year, Bangladesh imported goods worth $7.55 billion from China on the other hand local exporters have exported only $746.2 million worth of goods to the country. While China offers duty-free facility of 4,788 Bangladeshi products, it has urged Beijing to include 17 more items on the duty-free list. Raw jute, leather, frozen fish, Knit and oven garment, pet flex, Jute yarn, glass wear, copper wear, medicine, chemical items and textile fabrics are among the products that local exporters export to China. China, a major trading partner of the country, accounts for around 2.47 per cent of Bangladesh’s annual exports of $30 billion.