DHAKA, May 8, 2021 (BSS) – Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi today said that the slow growth trend in the export earnings due to the COVID-19 pandemic would go away in the post pandemic era.
Stressing the need for diversification of export products and markets, he also said that there is no alternative for this to successfully face the challenges of the LDC graduation.
The minister also expressed his optimism about nearing the export growth target of $41 billion in the current fiscal year (FY21).
Tipu said this while addressing a webinar titled “Diversification of Bangladesh’s Export Basket: Opportunities and Challenges” organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) today. ICAB Council Member and Past President Adeeb H Khan moderated the webinar.
Shubhashish Bose, Chief Executive Officer of ICAB and former senior secretary presented the keynote paper.
ICAB President Mahmudul Hasan Khusru gave the welcome speech.
Md. Jafar Uddin, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, ICAB Vice President Maria Howlader, Md. Mostaque Hassan, Chairman, Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), A. H. M. Ahsan, Vice Chairman & CEO of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh , A F M Fakhrul Islam Munshi, President, Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association – BAPA, Faruque Hassan, President, The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Golam Ahsan, President, Bangladesh Handicrafts Manufactures & Exporters Association (BANGLACRAFT), Md. Saiful Islam, President, Leather goods & Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) and Vice President, Bangladesh Ship Builders Association, Mohd. Shafiqul Islam, Chairman, Bangladesh Jute Goods Exporters’ Association (BJGEA) and Syed Almas Kabir, President, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), among others, spoke at the webinar.
Mentioning the government’s necessary preparation about signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) with various countries, Tipu said such agreement has already been signed with Bhutan while the government has a target to ink at least 7 to 8 such deals in this year.
The commerce minister said that export earnings have crucial effects on the country’s investment, GDP growth, real exchange rate, unemployment, government revenue and expenditure.
“Diversification of export is the highest priority area of our government. And in that view, we’re providing subsidy to encourage exports of a number of products. We’re also setting up 100 new EPZs for boosting export,” he further said.
Tipu said since Bangladesh has graduated from the least developed country (LDC) status to a developing country and with this new tag of middle income country, Bangladesh would loose the right of getting low interest loans and other trade benefits.
“There is no alternative to export diversification for rapid growth rate. The Ministry of Commerce is working to make active our embassies and foreign missions to expand the export market of Bangladeshi products.” he added.
Tipu further said that the ministry of commerce is trying to make the operations of Bangladesh’s embassies and foreign missions dynamic and diverse, to survive in a rapidly changing and competitive world trade system.
“We’ve also framed policy on API and leather goods to facilitate the exporters,” he said and added that a project titled EC4 Project on leather products, plastics and light engineering worth Tk 1000 crores in collaboration with IFC has been undertaken.
“This will help the sectors to enhance their capacities for competitiveness especially in the post-graduation period,” he added.
Senior secretary of the commerce ministry Dr Md Jafar Uddin said that the government wants to tap the huge potential of global halal food market as the country can export halal foods worth $10 billion.
The speakers at the webinar said to enhance export of products and services from Bangladesh, there is a need to explore untapped markets in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Latin America and African regions instead of concentrating only in two areas – European Union including the UK, and the USA.
They said the African continent has the least market share for Bangladesh. But, a huge opportunity lies there. There are fourteen SADC countries in the continent. The SADC is a bloc, a common customs union which could be a gateway to 290 million people.
If a product enters into a member-country, it can easily travel to other countries without facing customs problems. So, efforts are necessary to conduct preferential trading agreement or free trade agreement with African countries, they observed.
Shubhashish Bose in his key-note speech said
under generalized system of preferences, 80 percent of Bangladeshi products on duty free, enter in 27 countries of European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland , the UK, Turkey, Canada and Russia.
Bose said that IT sector , pharmaceuticals , ocean going ship building industry, light engineering sector, ceramic and porcelain wares are thrust sectors and thus deserve more attention to bag more foreign currency.