Dhaka (APP) - China has offered duty-free access to some 5,000 Bangladeshi products in a goodwill gesture in a significant development in economic ties between the two countries after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasinas Beijing visit in March this year, a senior Minister said in Dhaka Saturday. We are very happy to let you know about the Chinese offer.We expect the development to intensify further the business relations between the two countries, Commerce Minister Faruque Khan told newsmen. He added that the list of products to enjoy the duty-free access included several items of Bangladeshs main export earning Readymade Garments (RMG) sector. Khan, however, said the Chinese offer came in line with an earlier deal reached in the regional business forum Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) meeting in South Korea in December last year. But, he said, the announcement came as Dhaka-Beijing economic ties were expected to be strengthened further after the Prime Ministers maiden China visit in March this year. Bangladesh and China are members of the regional trade agreement that also includes South Korea, Thailand, Laos and Sri Lanka. Commerce Ministry officials said the Chinese embassy here informed them of the offer for the duty-free access of our 4,721 products last week while Beijing did not impose any preconditions for availing the access or wanted no reciprocal action by Bangladesh. They said Bangladesh earlier sought duty-free access of 39 items to Beijing during the last Bangladesh-China Joint Economic Commission meeting in Beijing in July last year. Bangladesh currently enjoys duty-free access to 27 European Union nations under its Everything But Arms (EBA) trade access facilities the continental grouping extended to the worlds least developed countries. The country also enjoys duty-free access of several hundred products to countries in North America, Asia and Oceania but in most cases apparel RMG products are made off-limit to these generosities. Business analysts and reports earlier said duty-free access to the huge and growing Chinese market with a population of 1.30 billion was crucial for Bangladeshi merchandise. Over the past few years, China is the fastest growing economy in the world, replaced India as Bangladeshs biggest import destination with bilateral trade between the two nations touching over four billion dollars, though heavily skewed in favour of Beijing. The development came as Dhaka earlier described the premiers China visit as an opening up of a strategic partnership between the two countries with Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni saying Bangladesh entered into a strategic partnership with Beijing with Sheikh Hasinas maiden China visit. Beijing earlier expressed its willingness to support construction of the proposed deep sea port in Bangladesh which is to be used by the East as well as the South Asian neighbours. During Sheikh Hasinas China tour Bangladesh signed three treaties and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Beijing expanding the development cooperation between the two neighbours during the summit while the summit laid its top priority on connectivity for mutual economic benefit.