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https://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/first-page/india-may-lift-anti-dumping-duty-on-bangladeshi-jute-exports-1660326463

India may lift anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute exports

Announcement likely during PM's Delhi visit in Sept

 SYFUL ISLAM |  August 13, 2022 00:00:00

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India is likely to remove anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute-goods export next month over five years after the bigger trade partner had slapped the levy to plug the fibre shipments.

The announcement may come during the New Delhi visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the first week of September, officials say.

Delhi informed Dhaka of such thinking late last month when Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Muhammad Imran called on Indian commerce secretary B V R Subrahmanyam to discuss bilateral trade issues ahead of the prime minister's trip.

"The commerce secretary indicated that anti-dumping duty on jute would be removed before the VVIP visit and be reflected in the joint statement as a deliverable," an official of the high commission informed foreign ministry this week.

India imposed the anti-dumping duty on Bangladesh's jute yarn, hessian and bags, ranging between US$19 and $352 per tonne, in January 2017, resulting in further widening of trade gap between the two next-door neighbours.

Bangladesh's overall annual exports to India amount to nearly $1.0 billion against imports worth some $10 billion in the two-way trade.

The regulatory duty on grounds of checking the 'dumping' of the product had an immediate impact on Bangladesh's jute-and jute-goods export to India and the trade declined in the following year.

In fiscal year 2018-19, overall exports from Bangladesh declined to $816.27 million from $1.085 billion in the previous fiscal.

Since then, Bangladesh had requested India to withdraw the anti-dumping duty as it seriously undercuts jute-and jute-goods export to the Indian market. However, the repeated requests on various occasions at different levels of the governments didn't yield any outcome.

At one stage, Bangladesh warned to raise the issue to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for settlement of the trade dispute.

On the other hand, India in June last year launched sunset review of the anti-dumping duty, being requested by its local jute millers as the tenure of the duty imposition was supposed to be over in January 2022.

To have the anti-dumping duty on one of the main exportable from here lifted, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi this March wrote to his Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal and Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal to his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman in June.

Again, India levied the anti-dumping duty on export of hydrogen peroxide from Bangladesh, ranging between $27.81 and $91.47 per tonne, on April 2017. One year later, India also put anti-dumping duty, amounting to $2.69 per kilogramme, on fishing-net export from Bangladesh to its market.

Last month, the Indian commerce ministry recommended imposition of anti-dumping duty on clear-float glass export from Bangladesh.

However, in June this year, India withdrew the preventive duty on export of hydrogen peroxide there from here.

Commerce secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh could not be reached for comment on the latest developments, despite repeated attempts.

However, Director-General of the WTO Cell at the ministry of commerce Hafizur Rahman told the FE there was no concrete development from the Indian side over the anti-dumping duties on jute and other products so far, which they imposed without following proper rules.

He said during the Prime Minister's Delhi visit next month, Bangladesh side will keep the issue as an item of agenda for discussion.

"Let's see what happens," says Mr Rahman, who had been handling the matter for long to clear the roadblocks.

However, he says the commerce secretary is on positive side to remove the barrier but the problem is Indian bureaucracy has differences of opinion that delays many things.

Research Director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem told the FE that the indication of withdrawal of anti-dumping duty on Bangladesh's jute goods is positive news.

However, it needs to be explored under what regulatory arrangement the duty will be withdrawn as the Indian government earlier had indicated a legal barrier in case of withdrawal of the duty on jute goods as the decision on a petition is pending with Indian court on this matter.

"It is expected that the issue will be resolved through the court procedure in order to avoid any future complexities," says Mr Moazzem.

He pleads that the Indian government should take necessary measures for lifting the anti-dumping duty on other Bangladesh products, too, which are currently facing the same barrier like clear-float glass and fishing net.

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https://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/first-page/farm-exports-fare-bright-in-bd-trade-1660326518

Hailed as dev in export diversification

Farm exports fare bright in BD trade

Overshoot billion-dollar mark, promise higher growth

 FHM HUMAYAN KABIR |  August 13, 2022 00:00:00

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Agricultural-product export shines bright in Bangladesh's export basket with its proceeds crossing billion-dollar mark, insiders say, raising hopes for the country's overall external trade to see a boost.

In the last fiscal year (FY) 2021-22, the agricultural goods and relevant processed foods fetched US$1.16 billion worth of foreign exchange, 13.04-percent higher year on year, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data show.

The country's overall merchandise exports were worth US$52.08 billion in the past fiscal year, recording a 34.38-percent growth year on year.

In the previous FY2021, the Bangladesh-made agro-products had touched billion-dollar export- earning mark for the first time in the country's 50-year history. In the fiscal, the agro-exporters made shipment of agro-and relevant products worth $1.02 billion, EPD data showed.

Analysts say the entry of agricultural products into the billion-dollar-earner club has lit up a new hope for the country's much-needed export-basket diversification, away from overdependence on readymade garments.

The apparel sector has been single-largest export earner for Bangladesh for more than three decades, contributing around 80 per cent to the aggregate export earnings.

It's good news for the country that its businessmen are trying to diversify their exportable products in overseas markets, cutting dependence on the single-largest export item-RMG-the analysts say.

They say light engineering, jute and jute goods, handicrafts, leather and leather products, some specialized textiles, ceramic products and glass and glassware are also doing well in export for last couple of years.

According to the EPB, some ago-products like edible vegetables and certain root and tubers ($99.91 million), coffee, tea, meat and spices ($49.54 million), ginger, saffron, turmeric (curcuma)...curry and other spices ($39.66 million), sugar confectionery ($26.93 million), malt extract, food preparations of flour ($67.23 million), and fruit juices and vegetable juices ($58.20 million) performed well on the export market last year.

Besides, tobacco and tobacco products with $107.22 million in export earnings in the last fiscal are also showing upturn.

Khurshid Ahmad Farhad, General Manager of Bombay Sweets & Company Ltd, says agro-product exports will be growing in the future days as Bangladesh's many companies are now trying to expand their market overseas, with agro-processing industries flourishing and holding high prospects.

"Our company is also expanding its capacity and diversifying the products eying foreign alongside its local markets. We are hopeful of getting a big boost in the export volume within next couple of years," he adds.

The largest ago-processing-product exporter -PRAN-RFL Group-has already announced that it would double its export earnings to $1.0 billion by 2025.

It also plans to reach $2.0-billion-export-earning benchmark by 2030 - based on its diversified range of products and markets.

The conglomerate's export that started in 1997 by sending pineapples to France stood at $532 million in last FY2021-22, the company claims.

Research Director for the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr KG Moazzem told the FE that it's good news that Bangladesh has found the RMG+1 billion-dollar-export-earning products in its foreign-trade basket.

"We were not getting billion-dollar export products for long years. Now the agro-products had touched the point and it's maintaining a steady growth. It's really a stunning news for Bangladesh," he adds.

Dr Moazzem cites another piece of good news that some Bangladeshi-made products are getting promotion as good brand on the overseas market. "It will facilitate the country to export in the future days, too."

The CPD researcher notes that although Pran Group is the dominant exporter but some other companies are added to the list which expanded the export volume of the country.

The local companies should now enhance their capacities to expand their export market in the US and EU nations through ensuring their standard and certification.

Higher volume of the Bangladeshi agro-products goes to the middle-eastern markets alongside some Asian, African and South-Asian countries.

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https://www.newsbangla24.com/economy/203715/India-is-going-to-be-one-of-the-biggest-export-markets-of-Bangladesh

বাংলাদেশের বড় রপ্তানি বাজার হতে যাচ্ছে ভারত

আবদুর রহিম হারমাছি, ঢাকা

২২ আগস্ট, ২০২২ ১১:০০

Photo%20India%20Export.jpg

২০২২-২৩ অর্থবছরের প্রথম মাস জুলাইয়ে পাশের দেশ ভারতে ১৫ কোটি ২০ লাখ ডলারের বিভিন্ন ধরনের পণ্য রপ্তানি করেছে বাংলাদেশ। ছবি কোলাজ: নিউজবাংলা

"অতীতের সব রেকর্ড ছাড়িয়ে গত অর্থবছরে ভারতে বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানি ২০০ কোটি (২ বিলিয়ন) ডলারের ঘরে পৌঁছে, যা ছিল আগের অর্থবছরের চেয়ে ৫৫.৬২ শতাংশ বেশি। নতুন অর্থবছরের প্রথম মাস জুলাইয়ে রপ্তানি বেড়েছে ২০.৫৩ শতাংশ। বছর শেষে ৩ বিলিয়ন ডলার রপ্তানির আশা করছেন বাণিজ্যমন্ত্রী টিপু মুনশি।"

 

গত অর্থবছরের ধারাবাহিকতায় বিশ্বের দ্বিতীয় সর্বোচ্চ জনসংখ্যার দেশ ভারতের বিশাল বাজারে আশাজাগানিয়া রপ্তানি বৃদ্ধির মধ্য দিয়ে শুরু হলো নতুন অর্থবছর। এই ধারা অব্যাহত থাকবে- এমন আশার কথা শুনিয়ে সরকারের নীতিনির্ধারক, রপ্তানিকারক ও অর্থনীতির বিশ্লেষকরা বলছেন, বাংলাদেশের অন্যতম বৃহত্তম রপ্তানি বাজার হতে চলেছে ভারত। রাশিয়া-ইউক্রেন যুদ্ধের ধাক্কায় যুক্তরাষ্ট্র ও ইউরোপের বাজারে বাংলাদেশের পোশাক রপ্তানি হোঁচট খেলেও খুব বেশি সমস্যা হবে না। বছর শেষে ইতিবাচক প্রবৃদ্ধি ধরে রাখা সম্ভব হবে।

২০২২-২৩ অর্থবছরের প্রথম মাস জুলাইয়ে পাশের দেশ ভারতে ১৫ কোটি ২০ লাখ ডলারের বিভিন্ন ধরনের পণ্য রপ্তানি করেছেন বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানিকারকরা। এই অঙ্ক গত অর্থবছরের জুলাইয়ের চেয়ে ২০ দশমিক ৫৩ শতাংশ বেশি।

২০২১-২২ অর্থবছরের প্রথম মাস জুলাইয়ে এই বাজারে ১২ কোটি ৬১ লাখ ডলারের পণ্য রপ্তানি করেছিল বাংলাদেশ।

অতীতের সব রেকর্ড ছাড়িয়ে গত অর্থবছরে ভারতে বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানি ২০০ কোটি (২ বিলিয়ন) ডলারের ঘরে পৌঁছে, যা ছিল আগের অর্থবছরের চেয়ে ৫৫ দশমিক ৬২ শতাংশ বেশি।

বাণিজ্যমন্ত্রী টিপু মুনশি বলেছেন, ‘আমরা খুবই খুশি যে ভারতে আমাদের রপ্তানি বাড়ছে। আশা করছি, চলতি অর্থবছরে দেশটিতে আমাদের রপ্তানি ৩ বিলিয়ন (৩০০ কোটি) ডলার ছাড়িয়ে যাবে।’

২০২১-২২ অর্থবছরে ভারতের বাজারে উল্লম্ফনের পর চলতি অর্থবছরের প্রথম মাসেও রপ্তানি বাড়ায় বেশ ফুরফুরে মেজাজে আছেন বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানিকারকরা। তারা বলছেন, প্রায় দেড় শ কোটি মানুষের দেশ ভারতের বাজার ভালোভাবে ধরতে পারলে আমাদের আর পেছন ফিরে তাকাতে হবে না। আরও সামনের দিকে এগিয়ে যাবে বাংলাদেশ।

দেশের রপ্তানি আয়ের প্রধান খাত পোশাক রপ্তানিকারকরা বলছেন, ভারতে নিম্ন ও মধ্যবিত্ত শ্রেণি দ্রুত বিকশিত হচ্ছে। সেই সঙ্গে বাড়ছে ব্র্যান্ড-সচেতনতা। এ কারণে সেখানে স্থানীয় ব্র্যান্ডগুলোও শক্ত অবস্থান তৈরি করছে। আবার আন্তর্জাতিক ব্র্যান্ডগুলোও দেশটিতে নতুন নতুন বিক্রয়কেন্দ্র খুলতে শুরু করেছে। সব মিলিয়ে ভারতের বাজারে বাংলাদেশের তৈরি পোশাকের বড় সম্ভাবনা তৈরি হয়েছে।

সেই সুফলই এখন পাচ্ছে বাংলাদেশ। আগামী দিনগুলোতে রপ্তানি আরও বাড়বে- এমন আশার কথা শুনিয়ে অর্থনীতির বিশ্লেষকরা বলছেন, দুই দেশের সরকারের মধ্যে সুন্দর সম্পর্ক বিরাজ করছে। দীর্ঘদিন ধরে ভারতে বিজেপি ও বাংলাদেশে আওয়ামী লীগ সরকার ক্ষমতায় আছে। এটাই উপযুক্ত সময়। সরকার ও বেসরকারি খাত মিলে ভারতের বাজার ধরতে একটি সুদূরপ্রসারী পরিকল্পনা গ্রহণের পরামর্শ দিয়েছেন তারা।

রপ্তানি উন্নয়ন ব্যুরো (ইপিবি) রোববার রপ্তানির আয়ের দেশভিত্তিক হালনাগাদ যে তথ্য প্রকাশ করেছে, তাতে দেখা যায় ১ জুলাই থেকে শুরু হওয়া ২০২২-২৩ অর্থবছরের প্রথম মাস জুলাইয়ে ভারতের বাজারে ১৫ কোটি ২০ লাখ ডলারের বিভিন্ন ধরনের পণ্য রপ্তানি হয়েছে। এর মধ্যে তৈরি পোশাক রপ্তানি হয়েছে ৭ কোটি ৬৯ লাখ ৮০ হাজার ডলারের। অর্থাৎ মোট রপ্তানির প্রায় অর্ধেকই পোশাক। বাকিটা পাট ও পাটজাত পণ্য, প্লাস্টিক দ্রব্য এবং চামড়া ও চামড়াজাত পণ্য।

২০২১-২০২২ অর্থবছরের ভারতে ১৯৯ কোটি ১৩ লাখ ৯০ হাজার (প্রায় ২ বিলিয়ন) ডলারের পণ্য রপ্তানি হয়েছে। এর মধ্যে পোশাক রপ্তানি থেকে এসেছে ৭১ কোটি ৫৪ লাখ ১০ হাজার ডলার। অন্যান্য পণ্যের মধ্যে পাট ও পাটজাত পণ্য থেকে এসেছে ১৯ কোটি ৪৪ লাখ ৭০ হাজার ডলার। ১০ কোটি ১০ লাখ ২০ হাজার ডলার এসেছে চামড়া ও চামড়াজাত পণ্য রপ্তানি থেকে।

এ ছাড়া কটন ও কটন প্রোডাক্টস থেকে ৩ কোটি ৯২ লাখ ৮০ হাজার ডলার এবং প্লাস্টিক দ্রব্য থেকে ৩ কোটি ৪ লাখ ৩০ হাজার ডলার এসেছে।

ইপিবির সর্বশেষ তথ্য বিশ্লেষণে দেখা যায়, একক দেশ হিসেবে ভারত এখন বাংলাদেশের সপ্তম রপ্তানি বাজারের তালিকায় উঠে এসেছে। অর্থাৎ বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানি আয়ের শীর্ষ ১০ বাজারের একটি এখন ভারত।

অথচ ২০২০-২১ অর্থবছরেও বাংলাদেশের শীর্ষ ১০ রপ্তানি বাজারের তালিকায় ভারতের স্থান ছিল না। আগের বছরগুলোতে ভারতের অবস্থান ছিল ১৪ থেকে ১৫তম স্থানে।

সবার ওপরে বরাবরের মতোই যুক্তরাষ্ট্র অবস্থান করছে। দ্বিতীয় স্থানে জার্মানি। তৃতীয়, চতুর্থ, পঞ্চম ও ষষ্ঠ স্থানে যথাক্রমে যুক্তরাজ্য, ফ্রান্স, স্পেন ও পোল্যান্ড।

পোল্যান্ড ও ভারতে রপ্তানির অঙ্ক প্রায় কাছাকাছি। গত অর্থবছরে পোল্যান্ডে রপ্তানি হয়েছে ২১৪ কোটি ২৪ লাখ ডলারের পণ্য।

বাংলাদেশের ইতিহাসে এর আগে মাত্র তিনটি অর্থবছরে ভারতে পণ্য রপ্তানি ১ বিলিয়ন (১০০ কোটি) ডলারের বেশি হয়েছে, তাও সেটা গত তিন বছরে। তার আগের বছরগুলোয় ভারতে বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানি ছিল ১ বিলিয়ন ডলারের নিচে।

২০২০-২১ অর্থবছরে বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানিকারকরা ভারতে ১২৮ কোটি ডলারের পণ্য রপ্তানি করেন, যা ছিল এ-যাবৎকালের সর্বোচ্চ। ২০১৯-২০ অর্থবছরের চেয়ে এ আয় বেশি ছিল প্রায় ১৭ শতাংশ।

২০১৮-১৯ অর্থবছরে ভারতের বাজারে ১২৫ কোটি ডলারের পণ্য রপ্তানি করেছিল বাংলাদেশ। ২০১৯-২০ অর্থবছরে তা কমে ১০৯ কোটি ৬১ লাখ ৬০ হাজার ডলারে নেমে আসে।

২০১১ সালে ভারত বাংলাদেশকে অস্ত্র ও মাদক বাদে সব পণ্যে শুল্কমুক্ত রপ্তানি সুবিধা দেয়। যদিও সেই সুবিধা খুব বেশি কাজে লাগাতে পারছিলেন না বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানিকারকরা। ২০১১ সালের দিকে বাংলাদেশের বেশ কিছু কারখানার কাছ থেকে পোশাক নিয়ে টাকা দেয়নি ভারতীয় কোম্পানি লিলিপুট। সে জন্য বেশ কয়েক বছর পোশাক রপ্তানিতে ভাটা পড়ে। কিন্তু গত কয়েক বছরে ভারতের বিভিন্ন শহরে পোশাকের নামিদামি বিদেশি অনেক ব্র্যান্ড বিক্রয়কেন্দ্র খোলায় তাতে পোশাক রপ্তানি বৃদ্ধি পায়।

যুক্তরাষ্ট্রভিত্তিক আন্তর্জাতিক গবেষণা প্রতিষ্ঠান ম্যাকেঞ্জি অ্যান্ড কোম্পানির এক প্রতিবেদনে ২০১৯ সালে বলা হয়েছিল, দুই বছরের মধ্যে ৩০০টি আন্তর্জাতিক ফ্যাশন ব্র্যান্ড ভারতে বিক্রয়কেন্দ্র খোলার পরিকল্পনা করছে। কারণ দেশটির মধ্যবিত্ত শ্রেণি গড়ে ১৯ শতাংশ হারে বাড়বে, যা কি না চীন, ব্রাজিল ও মেক্সিকোর তুলনায় দ্রুত। ২০২২ সালে ভারতের কাপড়ের বাজার হবে ৫ হাজার ৯০০ কোটি ডলারের।

রপ্তানি আয়ের প্রধান খাত তৈরি পোশাক শিল্প মালিকদের শীর্ষ সংগঠন বিজিএমইএর সাবেক সভাপতি বাংলাদেশ চেম্বারের বর্তমান সভাপতি দেশের অন্যতম শীর্ষ পোশাক উৎপাদন ও রপ্তানিকারক প্রতিষ্ঠান ইভিন্স গ্রুপের কর্ণধার আনোয়ার-উল আলম চৌধুরী পারভেজ নিউজবাংলাকে বলেন, ‘গত অর্থবছরের ধারাবাহিকতায় চলতি অর্থবছরেও ভারতে রপ্তানি আয়ে ভালো প্রবৃদ্ধি নিয়ে আমরা অর্থবছর শুরু করেছি। রাশিয়া-ইউক্রেন যুদ্ধ দীর্ঘস্থায়ী হওয়ায় আমাদের প্রধান দুই বাজার আমেরিকা-ইউরোপের দেশগুলোতে মূল্যস্ফীতি বেড়ে যাওয়ায় আমরা পোশাক রপ্তানিতে নতুন চ্যালেঞ্জের মুখোমুখি হয়েছি। ওই দেশগুলোর মানুষ এখন পোশাক কেনা কমিয়ে দিচ্ছেন। এ অবস্থায় আমরা যদি ভারতে আমাদের রপ্তানি আরও বাড়াতে পারি, তাহলে আমাদের জন্য খুবই ভালো হয়।’

দেশের অন্যতম শীর্ষ পোশাক উৎপাদন ও রপ্তানিকারক প্রতিষ্ঠান ইভিন্স গ্রুপের কর্ণধার আনোয়ার-উল আলম চৌধুরী পারভেজ বলেন, ‘ভারতে বাংলাদেশে তৈরি পোশাকের কদর বাড়ছে। ভৌগোলিক কারণেই ভারতে বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানি বাড়ছে। এখন থেকে তা বাড়তেই থাকবে বলে মনে হচ্ছে আমার কাছে। প্রায় দেড় শ কোটি লোকের চাহিদা মেটাতে ভারতকে বাংলাদেশ থেকে পোশাক কিনতেই হবে। ভারতে পোশাক তৈরি করতে যে খরচ হয়, বাংলাদেশ থেকে আমদানি করলে তার থেকে অনেক কম পড়ে। সে কারণে সব হিসাব-নিকাশ করেই তারা এখন বাংলাদেশ থেকে বেশি বেশি পোশাক কিনছে।’

‘ভারতের অনেক ব্যবসায়ী এখন বাংলাদেশের কারখানায় পোশাক তৈরি করে তাদের দেশে নিয়ে গিয়ে বিক্রি করছেন। এতে তাদের একদিকে যেমন লিড টাইম কম লাগছে, অন্যদিকে খরচও কম হচ্ছে।

সব মিলিয়ে ভারতের বিশাল বাজার বাংলাদেশের পোশাক রপ্তানিকারকদের জন্য আগামী দিনে ‘সুদিন’ বয়ে আনবে বলে মনে করছেন পারভেজ।

বাংলাদেশের নিট পোশাক শিল্প মালিকদের সংগঠন বিকেএমইএ নির্বাহী সভাপতি মোহাম্মদ হাতেম নিউজবাংলাকে বলেন, ‘গতকাল ভারতের দুজন বায়ার আমার কারখানা পরিদর্শনে এসেছিলেন। তারা দুজন আমার পুরোনো ক্রেতা। এবার তারা এসেছেন, আরও বেশি অর্ডার দিতে। এ থেকেই বোঝা যাচ্ছে, ভারতে আমাদের পোশাকের চাহিদা বাড়ছে। আমরা বেশ ভালোভাবেই ভারতের বাজারে প্রবেশ করছি।’

তিনি বলেন, ‘প্রথমবারের মতো ভারতে আমাদের রপ্তানি ২ বিলিয়ন ডলার ছুঁয়েছে। এটা এখন বাড়বেই। তেমন আভাস আমরা পাচ্ছি। আর সত্যি কথা বলতে কী, ভারতের বাজার যদি আমরা মোটামুটি ভালোভাবে ধরতে পারি, তাহলে আর আমাদের পেছনে ফিরে তাকাতে হবে না। কেননা ভারত আমাদের পাশের দেশ, পরিবহন খরচ খুবই কম পড়বে। আমাদের মুনাফা বেশি হবে।’

‘ইউরোপ-আমেরিকার বাজারে যদি কোনো কারণে সমস্যা হয়, তাহলে আমাদের সমস্যা হবে না।’

বাংলাদেশ উন্নয়ন গবেষণা প্রতিষ্ঠানের (বিআইডিএস) জ্যেষ্ঠ গবেষণা পরিচালক মঞ্জুর হোসেন নিউজবাংলাকে বলেন, ‘ভারতে একটি বৃহৎ ও বিকাশমান বাজার রয়েছে। কিন্তু বাংলাদেশ সেখান থেকে এখন পর্যন্ত যথেষ্ট পরিমাণে লাভবান হতে পারেনি। বৈশ্বিক বাজার থেকে ভারতের আমদানির মোট মূল্যমান প্রায় ৪৫০ বিলিয়ন ডলার।

‘এখন ভারতে আমাদের রপ্তানি বাড়ছে। সেটা কিন্তু ভারতের দেড় শ কোটি লোকের বিশাল বাজারের তুলনায় একেবারেই নগণ্য। এখন দুই দেশের সরকারের মধ্যে সুন্দর সম্পর্ক বিরাজ করছে, সেটাকে কাজে লাগাতে পারলে বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানি বাণিজ্যে নতুন মাত্রা যোগ হবে।

‘একটা বিষয় মনে রাখতে হবে, পাশের দেশ হওয়ায় ভারতে খুবই কম খরচে আমরা পণ্য রপ্তানি করতে পারি। এতে রপ্তানিকারকরা বেশি লাভবান হন। তাই ভারতে রপ্তানি বাড়াতে সরকারের কূটনৈতিক তৎপরতা আরও বাড়ানো উচিত বলে আমি মনে করি। একই সঙ্গে রপ্তানিকারকদেরও নতুন পরিকল্পনা সাজিয়ে ভারতের বাজার দখলের চেষ্টা করতে হবে।’

সরকারি ও বেসরকারি খাত মিলে ভারতের বাজার ধরতে একটি স্বল্প, মধ্য ও দীর্ঘমেয়াদি সুদূরপ্রসারী পরিকল্পনা গ্রহণের পরামর্শ দিয়েছেন অর্থনীতিবিদ মঞ্জুর হোসেন।

বাণিজ্যমন্ত্রী টিপু মুনশি নিউজবাংলাকে বলেন, ‘গত অর্থবছরে আমরা ৫২ বিলিয়ন ডলারের পণ্য রপ্তানি করেছি। প্রবৃদ্ধি হয়েছে ৩৫ শতাংশের মতো। এবার লক্ষ্য ধরেছি ৫৮ বিলিয়ন ডলার। বিশ্ব পরিস্থিতি বিবেচনায় নিয়ে খুব বেশি প্রবৃদ্ধি ধরেনি; ১১ শতাংশ ধরেছি। আশা করছি লক্ষ্যমাত্রার চেয়ে বেশি আয় হবে। কেননা ভারতসহ অপ্রচলিত বাজার থেকে আমরা আশাজাগানিয়া সাফল্য পাচ্ছি।’

তিনি বলেন, ‘গত অর্থবছরে আমরা ভারতে ২ বিলিয়ন ডলারের পণ্য রপ্তানি করেছি, আগের অর্থবছরে যা ছিল ১ বিলিয়ন ডলারের কিছু বেশি। এবার আশা করছি, ৩ বিলিয়ন ডলার ছাড়িয়ে যাবে। সেদিন বেশি দেরি নয়, পাশের দেশ ভারত আমাদের অন্যতম বৃহত্তম রপ্তানি বাজারে পরিণত হবে।’

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/uk-continue-duty-free-market-access-bangladesh-after-ldc-graduation-481830

TBS Report

22 August, 2022, 06:10 pm

Last modified: 22 August, 2022, 06:18 pm

UK to continue duty-free market access to Bangladesh after LDC graduation

According to the new scheme, 98 percent of Bangladesh’s products will be eligible for the duty benefit after LDC graduation

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The UK will continue to provide Bangladesh with duty-free access to its market after the country's graduation from the LDC category.

British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson said this while responding to a query from Acting President of BGMEA Shahidullah Azim about the duty-free market access for Bangladesh after the LDC graduation.

The British government has announced a new scheme named "Developing Countries Trading Scheme" in place of the existing GSP. According to the new scheme, 98 percent of Bangladesh's products will be eligible for the duty benefit after LDC graduation.

The British High Commissioner spoke on different issues and answered various questions from stakeholders including political leaders, business leaders, economists, academia and journalists at a program titled "Meet the Ambassador" organized by the Centre for Governance Studies (CGS) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Bangladesh in Dhaka on 22 August.

Shahidullah Azim said the UK is the 3rd largest export destination for Bangladesh's RMG with exports of 4.49 billion dollars in the last fiscal year 2021-2022, and the bilateral economic relationship between the two countries has been growing significantly over the past decades.

"As we are preparing for the next growth phase of our industry, we have set priorities to enhance our business capabilities, particularly in the areas of diversification of products, investment in high-end textile sectors through innovation, value-addition, and upgrading technologies," he added.

He expressed thanks to the British government for the new scheme, saying that it would support Bangladesh in enhancing trade significantly.

He hoped that the friendly support of the British government for the development of Bangladesh would continue in the coming years.

Dr. Manjur A Chowdhury, Chairman, Zillur Rahman, Executive Director of the Centre for Governance Studies and Shadhan Kumar Das, Program Co-coordinator of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Bangladesh, among others, were present at the program.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh-to-get-easier-access-to-uk-market-in-post-ldc-era-1660709186

UK's new trading scheme

Bangladesh to get easier access to UK market in post-LDC era

DCTS comes into force in early 2023, replacing GSP

 FE REPORT | Published:  August 17, 2022 10:06:27 | Updated:  August 21, 2022 21:10:12

The United Kingdom (UK) on Tuesday launched the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS), offering 65 developing countries, including Bangladesh, an easier market access to their market with reduced tariff rates and simpler terms of trade.

"Bangladeshi businesses will have easier access to UK markets under the new scheme," said British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Chatterton Dickson.

"Even after Bangladesh graduates from the least developed country (LDC) status in 2026, it will retain duty-free access to the UK for 98 per cent of its products, including ready-made garments."

Mr Dickson said the DCTS will harness the power of trade and the private sector to enable developing countries like Bangladesh to grow and prosper.

The UK is one of Bangladesh's biggest export markets with annual trade partnership worth over $4.0 billion.

"We look forward to increasing trade in both directions as an increasingly prosperous Bangladesh buys more high quality UK goods and services," he said in a communication, following the launching of the scheme.

The DCTS will be one of the most generous sets of trading preferences of any country in the world, helping to grow trade, boost jobs and drive economic growth, said a spokesperson at the British High Commission in Dhaka.

He said the new scheme will replace the UK's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) and will come into force in early 2023, the spokesperson added.

This new scheme demonstrates the UK's commitment to strengthening a longer-term and mutually beneficial economic relationship with Bangladesh, he added.

The DCTS will provide a clearer and streamlined trading arrangement for Bangladesh thanks to simplified and more flexible rules of origin, making it easier to produce goods using components from other countries without losing duty-free status.

Under the scheme, Bangladesh will continue to benefit from duty-free exports to the UK on everything but arms.

The DCTS contributes to developing countries' integration into the global economy, creating stronger trade and investment partners for the future.

It also reflects the UK's commitments on human rights and labour standards, incorporating powers to alter trade preferences in the event of serious human or labour rights violations.

The DCTS will also support the UK's obligation on anti-corruption, climate change and environment conventions.

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Asst USTR Christopher Wilson in exclusive interview with FE

Bangladesh's labour rights situation delays GSP revival

US traders want to see transparent regulatory environment in Bangladesh, says Christopher Wilson

 S M JAHANGIR and SYFUL ISLAM | Published:  August 27, 2022 08:36:46 | Updated:  August 27, 2022 18:06:55

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Less-than-expected reform measures for ensuring labour rights hold back restoration of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facility for Bangladesh by the United States, a top US trade official has said.

"Bangladesh has taken some initial steps to amend its labour laws, but workers here continue to be subjected to unfair labour practices. They face retaliation too often when they complain or attempt to organise collectively for change," said Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) Christopher Wilson.

Mr Wilson arrived in Bangladesh Wednesday and had meetings with government officials of the ministries of ICT, agriculture, commerce, and foreign affairs as well as some business leaders. Data governance, technology, trade issues, and trade relationship, among others, came up for discussion during the meetings.

The main purpose of his visit was stated to be helping bolster bilateral trade relations between the US and Bangladesh. Dhaka has requested for long restoration of the suspended GSP facility on the country's single-largest apparel market in particular.

In an exclusive interview with The Financial Express, he said the government of Bangladesh indicated that additional labour-law amendments would take place soon.

"While the US GSP programme has currently expired and needs to be reauthorised by the US Congress, we do intend to remain constructively engaged on these issues," he said while replying to a query on possibility of restoration of the GSP facility for Bangladesh.

Mr Wilson noted that the inability to qualify for the GSP also prevented funding of development projects in Bangladesh by the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

When his attention was drawn to the desired outcomes of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA), which Bangladesh and the US signed back in November 2013, he said the pact had been a valuable mechanism for organising positive trade dialogues and exploring ways to reduce barriers and expand trade.

In 2013, the US suspended eligibility to receive benefits under the GSP citing lack of internationally recognised workers' rights in Bangladesh.

"The US is committed to supporting Bangladesh's labour-rights journey, including through targeted development assistance."

Mr Wilson mentioned that the US was Bangladesh's 'number-1' source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2021 with over US$585 million invested in one year. The US is also the largest historical source of FDI, with $4.3 billion total investment.

The US businesses play a significant role in the development of Bangladesh's economy - from energy and financial services sectors to emerging technologies and digital economy.

"There are several actions that Bangladesh can take to attract more investment. For instance, the US businesses want to see a transparent and predictable regulatory environment, and sound public procurement practices," he said, adding that these are some of the dos that can unlock more US investment here.

The US remains a rapidly growing destination for Bangladeshi ready-made garment (RMG) export. Trade in goods between the two countries reached over $10 billion in 2021, and the US is looking to continue raising bilateral trade with Bangladesh, he noted.

"Bangladesh is an attractive trade partner, because it has one of the fastest- growing economies in the world, a huge and growing middle-class population, and an eager and willing workforce."

Responding to a question as to whether the US has any plan to offer any tariff preference to Bangladesh after its graduation from the least-developed country (LDC) status, the senior USTR official said in the US tariff preferences are the purview of the Congress, and country-specific preferences are not currently being considered.

"I want to stress that the US is not going anywhere after Bangladesh graduates from the LDC status, and we will continue to work to increase bilateral trade and enhance economic growth.

"We already have the foundation to expand our economic relationship. The US is willing to go as fast as Bangladesh wants to go - in order to deepen our trade and investment relationship."

Asked whether the present US policy support would continue for boosting export of Bangladeshi RMG items to its market in future, Mr Wilson replied that the US is a top destination for Bangladeshi RMG export, but this is largely based on commercial demand.

"One of the Biden administration's top economic priorities is supply-chain diversification for a range of critical technologies, health and pharmaceutical products, and a range of other important items. There will certainly be a market in the US - to the extent Bangladesh can build up these industries."

On mandatory fumigation of the imported US cotton at Bangladeshi ports, he said the procedure is unnecessary because all the US cotton goes through multiple processes, including ginning and bale compression, which eliminate threat of harmful insects. Therefore, there is no threat of harmful pests arriving in Bangladesh through the US cotton.

"Removing the requirement to fumigate the US cotton in Bangladesh would significantly benefit both of our economies. This will help reduce costs and ensure a stable supply of high-quality US cotton for use in the local RMG industry. I am hopeful that this matter will be resolved soon," he adds.

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টিবিএস রিপোর্ট

28 August, 2022, 02:05 pm

Last modified: 28 August, 2022, 02:11 pm

জানুয়ারি-মে মাসে বাংলাদেশ থেকে ইইউ-র পোশাক আমদানি বেড়েছে ৪৪.৯৫%

ইউরোস্ট্যাটের মতে, এই সময়ের মধ্যে ইউরোপীয় ইউনিয়নের বৈশ্বিক পোশাক আমদানি ২৪ দশমিক ৩৭ শতাংশ পর্যন্ত বৃদ্ধি পেয়েছে।

 

বাংলাদেশ থেকে ইউরোপীয় ইউনিয়নে (ইইউ) পোশাক আমদানি ৪৪ দশমিক ৯৫ শতাংশ পর্যন্ত বেড়ে চলতি বছরের জানুয়ারি-মে মাসে ৯.৫৮ বিলিয়ন ডলারে পৌঁছেছে। ইউরোপীয় পরিসংখ্যান সংস্থা ইউরোস্ট্যাটের সর্বশেষ পোশাক আমদানি পরিসংখ্যানে উঠে এসেছে এই তথ্য।

ইউরোস্ট্যাটের মতে, এই সময়ের মধ্যে ইউরোপীয় ইউনিয়নের বৈশ্বিক পোশাক আমদানি ২৪ দশমিক ৩৭ শতাংশ পর্যন্ত বৃদ্ধি পেয়েছে।

একই সময়ে চীন থেকে ইইউ-এর পোশাক আমদানি আগের বছরের একই সময়ের তুলনায় ২০ দশমিক ৬৭ শতাংশ বেড়ে ১০.১৯ বিলিয়ন ডলারে পৌঁছেছে।

উল্লেখযোগ্য প্রবৃদ্ধি অর্জনকারী অন্যান্য দেশগুলো হলো কম্বোডিয়া (৩২ দশমিক ৬৮ শতাংশ), পাকিস্তান (২৯ দশমিক ২৮ শতাংশ), ইন্দোনেশিয়া (২৫ দশমিক ৩৬ শতাংশ), ভিয়েতনাম (২২ দশমিক ৩৪ শতাংশ) এবং মরক্কো (২০ দশমিক ০৫ শতাংশ)।

'আমদানি পরিসংখ্যান থেকে এখন পর্যন্ত ইইউ বাজারে বাংলাদেশের পোশাক ভালো অবস্থানে থাকার ইঙ্গিতই মিলে। কিন্তু সাম্প্রতিক ভূ-রাজনৈতিক উত্তেজনার কারণে খুচরা বিক্রেতারা বিশ্ববাজারের ক্রমবর্ধমান মূল্যস্ফীতির সঙ্গে খাপ খাইয়ে নিতে হিমশিম খাচ্ছে,' বলেন বাংলাদেশ পোশাক প্রস্তুতকারক ও রপ্তানিকারক সমিতি (বিজিএমইএ)-র পরিচালক মহিউদ্দিন রুবেল।

তিনি বলেন, 'ইউরোপীয় অনেক ব্র্যান্ডের খুচরা বিক্রি কমায় তাদের ইনভেন্টরি স্টক বেড়েছে। এসমস্ত কারণ বিবেচনায় আগামী মাসগুলোতে ইউরোপীয় ইউনিয়নের বাজারে আমাদের রপ্তানি হ্রাস পেতে পারে'।

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জসীম উদ্দীন & সালাহ উদ্দিন মাহমুদ

31 August, 2022, 12:05 am

Last modified: 31 August, 2022, 12:14 am

সৌদিতে ৩৫ বিলিয়ন ডলারের রপ্তানি বাজার ধরতে চায় বাংলাদেশ

এ বাজারে সিরামিক, ফার্মাসিউটিক্যাল ও প্লাস্টিক পণ্যেরও ভালো চাহিদা রয়েছে। আর এক্ষেত্রে ঢাকা’র বাণিজ্য ৩০০ মিলিয়ন ডলারেরও কম।

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সাতটি সম্ভাবনাময় পণ্য নিয়ে সৌদি আরবের বাজার ধরতে চাইছে বাংলাদেশ। এগুলোর মধ্যে রয়েছে- খাবার ও বেভারেজ, পোশাক, পাট ও চামড়াজাত পণ্য ইত্যাদি। সৌদি আরব এ পণ্যগুলো বর্তমানে বিশ্ববাজার থেকে কিনতে বার্ষিক ৩৫ বিলিয়ন মার্কিন ডলার খরচ করে।

এ বাজারে সিরামিক, ফার্মাসিউটিক্যাল, ও প্লাস্টিক পণ্যেরও ভালো চাহিদা রয়েছে। আর এক্ষেত্রে ঢাকা'র বাণিজ্য ৩০০ মিলিয়ন ডলারেরও কম।

এ লক্ষ্যকে সামনে রেখে, আগামী ৬-৮ অক্টোবর রিয়াদে প্রথমবারের মতো অনুষ্ঠেয় 'বাণিজ্য ও বিনিয়োগ মেলা-২০২২'-এ নিজের সক্ষমতা জানান দিতে চায় ঢাকা। সম্প্রতি রপ্তানি উন্নয়ন ব্যুরো'র (ইপিবি) এক চিঠিতে এসব তথ্য জানা গেছে।

বাংলাদেশে কিছু নতুন বিনিয়োগ আনাও এ প্রদর্শনীর আরেকটি উদ্দেশ্য থাকবে। এভাবে বিভিন্ন দেশে প্রদর্শনীর আয়োজন করে ইপিবি চাচ্ছে নতুন নতুন বাজারের অনুসন্ধান চালাতে এবং যুক্তরাষ্ট্র ও ইউরোপীয় ইউনিয়নের (ইইউ) ওপর নির্ভরতা কমাতে।

একইভাবে নতুন বাজারের সন্ধানে নেমেছে বাংলাদেশ পোশাক প্রস্তুত ও রপ্তানিকারক সমিতি (বিজিএমইএ)। তার অংশ হিসেবে আগামী বছর চীন, জাপান, ও দক্ষিণ কোরিয়ায় বাণিজ্য বৃদ্ধি করার উদ্দেশ্যে এ দেশগুলোতে প্রদর্শনীর আয়োজন করবে। বিজিএমইএ-এর আরও উদ্দেশ্য হলো- ২০৩০ সালের মধ্যে ১০০ বিলিয়ন রপ্তানি আদেশের লক্ষ্যমাত্রায় পৌঁছানো।

ইন্টারন্যাশনাল ট্রেড সেন্টার (আইটিসি)-এর উপাত্ত অনুযায়ী, ২০২১ সালে সৌদি আরবের আমদানি ছিল ১৫২.৩৪ ডলার। দেশটিতে চীন সবচেয়ে বেশি রপ্তানি করে থাকে, যার পরিমাণ ৩১.০৭ বিলিয়ন ডলার। এরপরে রয়েছে মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্র, সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাত, ভারত, ও জার্মানি।

অন্যদিকে ইপিবি'র তথ্য অনুযায়ী, ২০২১-২২ অর্থবছরে বাংলাদেশ রপ্তানি করেছে কেবল ২৯০ মিলিয়ন ডলার। এর মধ্যে পোশাক রপ্তানি ছিল ১৪৪ মিলিয়ন ডলার। ২০২টি রপ্তানি গন্তব্যের মধ্যে সৌদি আরব বাংলাদেশের ২৪তম বড় রপ্তানি গন্তব্য। একইসাথে সৌদি আরব দেশের পোশাকখাতের ২৬তম বৃহৎ রপ্তানি গন্তব্য।

তবে রপ্তানিকারকরা বলছেন, ইপিবি'র উপাত্তে সৌদি আরবে বাংলাদেশের রপ্তানির প্রকৃত তথ্য নেই। তাদের ধারণা, রপ্তানির অংক বাস্তবে আরও উচ্চ। তারা বলছেন, ব্যক্তিউদ্যোগেও কার্গো বা ব্যাগেজের মাধ্যমে সৌদি আরবে ভালো পরিমাণ পণ্য যায় বাংলাদেশ থেকে। অনানুষ্ঠানিক এ রপ্তানি প্রক্রিয়ায় পণ্যের মূল্য না পাওয়ার ঝুঁকিও থাকে।

দ্য বিজনেস স্ট্যান্ডার্ড-এর সঙ্গে এক আলাপচারিতায় বিকেএমইএ-এর নির্বাহী সভাপতি মোহাম্মদ হাতেম বলেন, 'পূর্ণ সম্ভাবনা কাজে লাগানো যায়নি এমন একটি সম্ভাব্য বাজারের সন্ধানে আমরা সৌদি আরবের এ প্রদর্শনীতে যোগ দিতে যাচ্ছি।'

বর্তমানে, বাংলাদেশি পোশাক প্রস্তুতকারীরা সৌদিভিত্তিক কিছু বাংলাদেশি বিক্রেতার মাধ্যমে রপ্তানি করছে। তাদের বেশিরভাগই রপ্তানিকারকদের সাথে প্রতারণা করে। বিষয়টি উল্লেখ করে তিনি আরও বলেন, বেশিরভাগ ক্ষেত্রে তারা অনানুষ্ঠানিকভাবে ব্যবসা করায় রপ্তানিকারকদের দাম আদায়ের কোনো উপায় থাকে না।  

এই প্রদর্শনী সৌদি আরবের খুচরা বিক্রেতাদের সাথে সরাসরি ব্যবসার  নতুন সুযোগ সৃষ্টি করবে বলে আশাপ্রকাশ করেন তিনি। 

বিজিএমইএ সহ-সভাপতি শহীদুল্লাহ আজিম জানান, তাদের ১৫ সদস্যের এই প্রদর্শনীতে যোগ দেওয়ার কথা রয়েছে। সৌদি উপসাগরীয় দেশগুলোয় প্রভাবশালী হওয়ায় প্রদর্শনীটি এ অঞ্চলের অন্যান্য বাজারে প্রবেশের সুযোগ তৈরি করবে।  

বেশিরভাগ পোশাক পণ্য চীন, ভারত, তুরস্কসহ অন্যান্য উৎস থেকে কেনে সৌদি আরব। 'বিশ্ববাজারে দ্বিতীয় বৃহৎ পোশাক রপ্তানিকারক হওয়ার পরও, এ বাজারে আমাদের অংশগ্রহণ খুবই সীমিত'- উল্লেখ করেন আজিম। 

তিনি বলছিলেন, সরকারি উদ্যোগের অভাবের কারণে এই বাজারে একটি বিশাল সুযোগ এখনও অব্যবহৃত। এটি অন্যান্য রপ্তানি পণ্য যেমন হোম টেক্সটাইল, কৃষি পণ্য, চামড়াজাত পণ্য, পাট এবং সিরামিকের জন্যও একটি বড় বাজার হবে। 

আরবীয় ঐতিহ্যবাহী পোশাকগুলিও উচ্চ মূল্যের পণ্য। তাই এবারের সরকারি উদ্যোগটি কমপক্ষে ৫ - ৬ বিলিয়ন ডলারের বাজার অংশীদারিত্ব প্রতিষ্ঠায় সহায়ক হবে বলে মনে করছেন আজিম।

শহীদুল্লাহ আজিম বলেন, 'বিকল্প বাজার হিসেবে এরমধ্যেই আমরা এশিয়ার দেশগুলোতে রপ্তানিতে ভালো প্রবৃদ্ধির মুখ দেখছি'।

নতুন ক্রেতা খুঁজতে এবং সম্ভাব্য নতুন বাজারগুলি থেকে আয় বাড়ানোর জন্য, দেশের পোশাক রপ্তানিকারকরা এই বছরের নভেম্বরে দুবাইতে আরেকটি প্রদর্শনীতে অংশগ্রহণ করবেন।

জাবের অ্যান্ড জুবায়ের ফেব্রিক্স লিমিটেড (হোম) এর নির্বাহী পরিচালক (বিপণন) রাশেদ মোশারফ জানান, তারা সৌদি আরব এবং অন্যান্য উপসাগরীয় দেশে তাদের নিজস্ব খুচরা বিক্রেতার মাধ্যমে ব্যবসা করছেন।

দুবাই ভিত্তিক বৃহত্তম খুচরা বিক্রেতাদের মধ্যে অন্যতম- ল্যান্ডমার্ক গ্রুপ। প্রতিষ্ঠানটি এই বাজারেও ভালো ব্যবসা করছে। তিনি বলেন, জাবের এবং জুবায়ের এই খুচরা বিক্রেতার জন্য তাদের কয়েকটি ব্র্যান্ড - ম্যাক্স, হোমসেন্টার, বেবিশপ এবং হোমবক্সের পণ্য প্রস্তুত করে থাকে। 

বাংলাদেশের সবচেয়ে বড় কৃষি-ভিত্তিক পণ্য রপ্তানিকারক প্রাণ গ্রুপের ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালক ইলিয়াস মৃধা বলেন, 'আমরা উপসাগরীয় দেশগুলিতে ভালো ব্যবসা করছি। বেশিরভাগ পণ্য যাচ্ছে- সৌদি আরব, সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাত, কাতার ও লেবাননে। 

এ বাজারে তাদের দুই অঙ্কের বার্ষিক প্রবৃদ্ধি হচ্ছে উল্লেখ করে তিনি বলেন, প্রাণের মোট রপ্তানির ৩০ ভাগই উপসাগরীয় দেশগুলিতে যায়।

২০২১-২২ অর্থবছরে ৫৩২ মিলিয়ন ডলারের পণ্য রপ্তানি করেছে প্রাণ-আরএফএল। ২০২৫ সাল নাগাদ ১০০ কোটি ডলার রপ্তানির লক্ষ্য রয়েছে তাদের। 

উপসাগরীয় দেশগুলোতে ১০ বিলিয়ন ডলারের তৈরি পোশাকের বাজার এখনও অব্যবহৃত

উপসাগরীয় দেশগুলির সাথে কূটনৈতিক সুসম্পর্ক থাকার পরও সরকার এবং বেসরকারি খাতের উদ্যোগের অভাবে বাংলাদেশ ১০ বিলিয়ন ডলারের পোশাকের বাজার থেকে বঞ্চিত হচ্ছে।

গালফ কো-অপারেশন কাউন্সিল–সৌদি আরব, সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাত, কাতার, ওমান, কুয়েত ও বাহরাইনের মতো উপসাগরীয় আরব দেশগুলির রাজনৈতিক ও অর্থনৈতিক জোট। 

ইন্টারন্যাশনাল ট্রেড সেন্টারের তথ্যমতে, ২০২০ সালে সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাত বিশ্ববাজার থেকে প্রায় ৪৪০ কোটি ডলার মূল্যের পোশাক পণ্য কিনেছে। সৌদি আরব কেনে ৩.০১ বিলিয়ন, কুয়েত ১.১৩, কাতার ৬৬০ মিলিয়ন, ওমান ৬০৮ মিলিয়ন এবং বাহরাইন ২৭৪ মিলিয়ন ডলারের পোশাক পণ্য। 

ইপিবির তথ্যানুসারে, এই অঞ্চলে বর্তমানে মাত্র ৩৬৭.৪৯ মিলিয়ন ডলারের পণ্য রপ্তানি করছে বাংলাদেশ।

তবে বাংলাদেশ উদ্যোগী হলে, সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাতের বার্ষিক চাহিদার ৫%, সৌদির ৪ শতাংশ এবং বাকি দেশগুলোর ১ শতাংশেরও কম চাহিদা মেটাতে পারবে বলে জানিয়েছে ব্যুরো।

এর আগে বিজিএমইএ সভাপতি ফারুক হাসান বলেছিলেন, উপসাগরীয় অঞ্চল ও মধ্যপ্রাচ্যে বাংলাদেশের পোশাক রপ্তানির বিশাল সম্ভাবনা রয়েছে, যথাযথ উদ্যোগের অভাবে এই বাজারের বড় অংশই দীর্ঘদিন ধরে অব্যবহৃত রয়েছে। 

'বাণিজ্য ও পররাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রণালয়ের সাথে যৌথভাবে আমরা এসব বাজারের সম্ভাবনা খুঁজে বের করার পরিকল্পনা করছি'- যোগ করেন তিনি। 

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/economy/2022/08/31/pri-bangladeshs-exports-can-rise-more-than-7-if-logistics-costs-go-down

PRI: Bangladesh's exports can rise more than 7% if logistics costs go down

Exports in every sector can be improved if the bureaucratic complexities reformed, says Salman F Rahman

 

Meraj Mavis

August 31, 2022 7:37 PM

By reducing domestic logistics costs by 17% it is possible to increase Bangladesh's exports by 7.4%, however, 35% of products get damaged in ports due to infrastructural deficiencies, experts said on Wednesday.

They were speaking at a roundtable “Improving trade facilitation for export competitiveness: Progress, Lessons and policy priorities for Bangladesh” organized by Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI).

boosting-bangladeshs-trade-competitivene

Salman Fazlur Rahman, adviser to the prime minister for private industry and investment, was present as chief guest.

On export diversification, Salman F Rahman said that although the readymade garment (RMG) sector is successful in exporting, other sectors were facing many hurdles. 

Export from every sector of the country could increase if bureaucratic complexities were reformed. There have been changes in the bureaucratic mindset at the top level, but prevailed at the ground level, he also said.

“The prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) asked several times why other export sectors were not as successful as the RMG industry. That is because people from other sectors say that they are not getting benefits like RMG. We have to seriously focus on other sectors like we have on RMG exports," Rahman also said.

“To increase exports, port facilities should be increased. The capacity of Chittagong Port will be increased further. Work is underway on the proposed deep sea port in Matarbari. Once these are done, exports can be further increased. Now I am working on how to bring more investment in the local private and foreign private sector,” he informed.

In his keynote presentation Policy Exchange Bangladesh (PEB) chairman Masrur Reaz said that gains from trade were highly relevant to Bangladesh's development trajectory and aspirations. 

High-quality products, services and input results in good exposure and improves technical capacity.  Having access to a larger market incentivizes firms to invest in R&D and foster innovation, he also said. 

Trade Facilitation (TF) emerges as a critical driver of trade competitiveness. It helps ensure predictability of operations and thus contribute to the competitiveness of a country, he also said. 

“Lower middle and developing countries stand to benefit more. Vietnam’s spectacular export-led growth success hugely benefited from its improvements in TF, Reaz also pointed out.

“Boosting TF will be crucial to attaining Bangladesh’s development priorities and growth aspirations. We are doing well in RMG, but when it comes to the non-RMG sectors then we have lots of opportunities to boost our export income," the PEB chairman also said.

“If we look upon the share of non-RMG exports against other Asian Countries then we see that in agriculture and ICT sectors our growth is very low," he observed.

Zaidi Sattar, PRI chairman, said that after losing two decades to prevarication and lack of direction in trade policy, in the 1990s Bangladesh chose to pursue the development policy of export-oriented trade.

This was done by switching from overwhelmingly inward-looking import-substituting trade policy to outward-looking export-oriented trade policy by liberalizing trade, rationalizing and reducing tariffs and quantitative restrictions, moving from fixed to flexible exchange rates, adopting partial convertibility of current account, together with supporting market-oriented reforms like de-regulation of investment and the like, the economist also pointed out. 

As a result of the switch to trade openness Bangladesh was described as a “globalizer” among developing economies. 

Trade-GDP ratio shot up from 19% in FY90 to 38% in the next 15 years, peaking at 49% in FY11. 

However, trade growth did not keep up with growth of nominal GDP; consequently, trade-GDP ratio has been sliding down reaching 30% in FY21, said Sattar. 

“Make no mistake, Bangladesh’s global integration is not just limited to trade in goods. A big chunk of our trade lies in export of factor services, such as services of our migrant workers, under the auspices of WTO’s general agreement on trade in services (GATS)," he also said. 

That brings in copious amounts of remittance income in foreign exchange to finance our bulging import bill. Trade facilitation improvement therefore must cover not only goods trade, but also the rising trade in non-factor services, such as ICT, financial services including digital and electronic transactions, and factor services, i.e. generating remittance of migrant workers, he added. 

Abdul Mannan Shikder, member VAT (Implementation and IT) at the National Board of Revenue, said: "We have many projects in hand, in which the World Bank is supporting us. There are bond management projects that are taking off very well.”

Asif Ibrahim, director of BGMEA and chairman of Chittagong Stock Exchange, said: “We are facing many problems in customs when it comes to bonded warehouse issues. When we want to introduce a new product in bonded warehouses, we always face problems.”

Ahsan H Mansur, executive director, PRI, Selma Rasavac, manager, Creating Markets Advisory, IFC, Md Hafizur Rahman, additional secretary (director general), WTO Cell Ministry of Commerce, Habibullah N Karim, vice president, MCCI, MD & CEO, Technohaven Company Ltd, and others were also present.

 

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/foreign-affairs/2022/09/01/bangladesh-brunei-highlight-air-shipping-connectivity-to-boost-ties

Bangladesh, Brunei highlight air, shipping connectivity to boost ties

The Brunei delegation expresses keenness to recruit more Bangladeshi workers in upcoming mega projects

bangladesh-brunei.jpeg

 

Bangladesh Brunei meeting at the second Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between Bangladesh and Brunei Darussalam held in Bandar Seri Begawan on Wednesday UNB

UNB

August 31, 2022 10:21 PM

Bangladesh and Brunei have stressed the importance of facilitating air and shipping connectivity for giving bilateral trade, investment, and people-to-people contact a boost.

Bangladesh and Brunei agreed to facilitate greater collaboration and synergy between the private sectors and entrepreneurs of the two countries to fully harness the untapped potential. 

The issues were discussed at the second Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between Bangladesh and Brunei Darussalam held in Bandar Seri Begawan on Wednesday.

The consultations were co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and Permanent Secretary of Brunei Darussalam Pengiran Norhashimah Binti Pengiran Mohd Hassan. Bangladesh High Commissioner Nahida Rahman was present at the meeting.

The issue of energy cooperation prominently featured in the bilateral discussions in the context of the severe supply chain disruptions owing to the volatility and uncertainties caused by the pandemic and conflicts in different parts of the world, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The two sides acknowledged the valuable contribution made by Bangladeshi migrant workers to both Bangladesh and Brunei.

Expressing optimism for signing the proposed MoU on the recruitment of Bangladeshi human resources in Brunei at the earliest, Foreign Secretary Masud underscored the need for a safe, orderly and regular migration. 

Flagging the high demographic dividend Bangladesh is currently enjoying, he offered to send more Bangladeshi workers to Brunei for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

The Brunei side expressed their keenness for recruiting more Bangladeshi workers in their upcoming mega projects.

During the FOC,  the whole spectrum of Bangladesh-Brunei bilateral relations came under discussion including cooperation in areas of migration, trade and commerce, investment, agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and livestock, health, connectivity, defense, energy, education, culture, youth, and sport, etc.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the existing level of bilateral engagements and reiterated their commitment to continued efforts to further expand the bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit in the days ahead.

Applauding the fruitful and substantial talks, both sides also agreed on continuing the regular institutional engagement mechanisms to keep up the momentum in bilateral relations.

While sharing Bangladesh’s preparedness for LDC graduation, Foreign Secretary Masud highlighted the tremendous socio-economic development in Bangladesh under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Foreign Secretary requested for continued international support, including from Brunei, for sustaining the development trajectory of Bangladesh in the post-graduation period.

The Permanent Secretary of Brunei highly praised the socio-economic development of Bangladesh and congratulated Bangladesh for successfully qualifying for graduation from an LDC to a developing nation.

Both sides agreed to further explore the potential for cooperation in the areas of food processing, ICT, shipbuilding, tourism, infrastructure development, pharmaceuticals and jute products, etc. Bangladesh sought Bruneian support for developing and promoting the Halal trade sector in Bangladesh.

As the Foreign Secretary highlighted the Rohingya crisis and sought a more proactive Bruneian support for early repatriation of the forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals to their motherland, the Brunei side assured of all possible cooperation in this regard. 

Brunei also assured of their support in favour of Bangladesh’s candidacy for the ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partnership.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/features/panorama/pros-and-cons-cepa-india-bangladeshs-private-sector-will-have-time-prepare-india

Adam Pitman

20 August, 2022, 03:20 pm

Last modified: 20 August, 2022, 04:54 pm

The pros and cons of a Cepa with India: 'Bangladesh's private sector will have time to prepare for India FTA'

trade.jpg?itok=N2mjusJ_&timestamp=166098

 

Bangladesh is starting formal negotiations with India for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa). The negotiations are taking place at a time when Bangladesh is set to lose the duty-free and quota-free market-access facility to India after 2026 when it graduates to a developing country.

Dr Sanjay Kathuria, a former lead economist with the World Bank, in an interview with Adam Pitman, explained his view of political concerns that complicate trade in South Asia. 

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Dr Sanjay Kathuria. Sketch: TBS

Bangladesh's private sector will have time to prepare for India FTA 

Many Bangladeshis are wary about the possibility of India-weighted economic agreements. Are agreements like India-Bangladesh Cepa worth the risk?

I certainly believe it's not just worth the risk, but it is important to take the plunge. And I really don't think it's a risk in the long run, and I will explain why.
At a macro-level, everybody is concerned about bilateral trade deficits – the bilateral trade deficit with India, for example, is high and growing. And underneath that, there's the fear that, 'I cannot compete.' But we know that Bangladesh is macro-economically stable. 

Bilateral trade deficits are political issues, but they are not economic [issues]. Bangladesh imports critical goods inputs for its garments industry, critical consumer goods, machinery, and then uses them for production and for exports. Critically, especially in these times, imports help keep prices in check. 

The concern should be on the overall current account deficit, rather than bilateral trade deficit. That means the deficit after accounting for remittances and other services exports, such as tourism. And there, Bangladesh doesn't really have an issue. In fact, lower income countries should be running some level of current account deficits so that they can, as they say, 'import savings from the rest of the world.' 

The bilateral deficit with India, while growing, hasn't led to any macro-economic situation, and there is stability on the balance of payments. So, one, don't worry about bilateral deficits in trade. 

The second thing is that trade and investment are very closely linked, and Bangladesh sorely needs high-quality investment in export-oriented sectors. 

If there is a free trade agreement between India and Bangladesh, as they are currently contemplating under the Cepa, Bangladesh's exports to India would go up 182% under an FTA, and if they add trade facilitation measures, and reduce transaction costs, then there could be an increase of 300%. 

Those statistics are from a paper [Unlocking Bangladesh-India Trade: Emerging Potential and the Way Forward] I did with Selim Raihan and Prabir De in 2012. 

A free trade agreement could increase Indian investment in Bangladesh – not only for re-exports to India, but even as a base for exports to the rest of the world. 

[That is] because Bangladesh is more competitive in some sectors, like garments, and that range of products can be expanded with reform and foreign investment. 

Can you spell out the link between trade agreements and investment more directly? 

The proposed Cepa goes beyond the liberalisation of merchandise trade. And there has been work by the World Bank which shows that deeper economic agreements spawn other economic linkages, especially when it comes to investment.

When governments show confidence in signing an agreement like the Cepa, it can energise the private sector. Businesspeople think 'this is a stable economic partnership – what can I do profitably?'  

Bangladesh could leverage Indian expertise in service sectors to improve competitiveness across a range of manufacturing industries. Services are critical to overall competitiveness, including in manufacturing. 

Indian services firms could also invest in, and improve, Bangladesh's productivity in different sectors, like logistics, for example, as well as labour skills – I just saw that Bangladesh scores very poorly in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, below Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. 

And it wouldn't be just Indian investment in Bangladesh. There will also be Bangladeshi investment in India's Northeast, for example, to secure its own future for agricultural products. 

So, it will be a two-way street.

Also, if Bangladesh signs a free trade agreement with a big country like India, this can interest [businesspeople] from other countries as well. Businesses could use Bangladesh as a base to export to India, and even develop joint ventures with [Indian companies] in Bangladesh. 

So, I think there could be a lot of gainful investment, but more critically, this investment will help Bangladesh diversify, and become more competitive in sectors other than garments. 

How do you interpret ideas like 'India cannot be trusted,' or 'we're bound to lose,' when bilateral trade deals are under discussion? 

It is par for the course in South Asia. It's true in Sri Lanka, and Nepal, and in all smaller countries when they're faced with a larger country. It's fear induced by asymmetric size and capacity.

[But] larger countries – like India – take into account smaller countries' sensitivities in different ways: one, trade agreements are implemented over longer periods, giving [industries] time to adjust; two, liberalisation is asymmetric, so a smaller country gets an 'early harvest,' [which can create] political support for liberalisation; three, certain sectors which are very sensitive, say, because the number of people employed, may be kept out of the liberalisation altogether – such as parts of agriculture. 

India has already unilaterally liberalised trade with all the least developed countries of South Asia. Then there is the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, which was another example of asymmetric liberalisation – India opened up much faster to Sri Lanka than vice versa. 

And I'm confident that is going to be the model for any future Cepa between India and Bangladesh. 

The most sensitive sectors for Bangladesh will be opened up at the end – 10 years down the line, or whenever they decide. That is normal when free trade agreements are designed between two partners of different capacities. So, there'll be enough time, provided there is intent, for the private sector to adjust and get ready for greater competition. 

And remember: there will be big winners along with losers. So, the challenge is managing the transition. 
New and expanding sectors should be supported by a facilitative policy that improves [access to] capital, labour mobility, and skill development. 

How have domestic politics in South Asia changed your work on regional trade and connectivity?

It has become clear to me that there are no quick wins in this scenario. But good things happen, and are happening, and that needs to be celebrated. 

My approach is: don't necessarily go with big reforms, but focus on incremental stuff, which is less likely to raise opposition. Be opportunistic when openings present themselves, then go for it. 

Keep going at it. Celebrate. Look for openings. 

Don't get disheartened by setbacks. Because that's par for the course. You know, one step forward two steps back, or two forward and one back. Really look hard for openings – and for dialogue. 

There are always opportunities, even in the most negative of circumstances. There are ways out. In fact, there are fresh opportunities today for South Asia – [even in] the bleak global scenario we find ourselves. Fresh opportunities, for example, [to develop] regional value chains [that take] advantage of the global [pursuit of] supply chain diversification. 

I am inherently optimistic, and will keep plugging away. 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/features/panorama/pros-and-cons-cepa-india-deal-worth-risk-480610

Nasif Tanjim

20 August, 2022, 03:35 pm

Last modified: 20 August, 2022, 03:40 pm

The pros and cons of a Cepa with India: ‘The deal is worth the risk’

selim_raihan.png?itok=_YjF29Ni&timestamp

 

Bangladesh is starting formal negotiations with India for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa). The negotiations are taking place at a time when Bangladesh is set to lose the duty-free and quota-free market-access facility to India after 2026 when it graduates to a developing country.

Dr Selim Raihan, who led a feasibility study of the deal, on the other hand, spoke to The Business Standard about how both Bangladesh and India can gain from Cepa.

What are your thoughts on a Cepa deal with India? How important is this deal?

India is one of our largest trading partners; in fact, it is our second largest source. At the same time, various studies, including my own, have shown that whatever we export to India now, we can export more. The potential is largely untapped.

We also need to remember that in our current trade arrangement, India offers Bangladesh duty-free export facilities on almost all products except for alcoholic products and firearms. But regarding imports, Bangladesh charges reduced tariffs for some products due to Safta, but for other products, Bangladesh charges MFA tariffs.

In this context, an FTA between the two countries is needed. 

There are three major pillars of Cepa:

  • Signing an FTA when it comes to goods.
  • Liberalisation in service trade.
  • Promotion of bilateral investment.

I actually led the joint feasibility study. In the study, Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute represented Bangladesh, while the Centre for Regional Trade represented India. If we can include services in a trade deal with India, this should include many things like connectivity, health, education, tourism, port-access etc.

What should we focus on to get the most out of the deal? Can it help reduce the trade deficit?

Bangladesh has a trade deficit with India. While Bangladesh has the largest bilateral trade deficit with China, the trade deficit with India is more talked about. It is perhaps because of the political climate of the Indian subcontinent. On the other side, Bangladesh is generating a trade surplus with two major export destinations, North America and the European Union.

We shouldn't be concerned about the bilateral trade deficit as long as we can compensate by having a trade surplus with some other countries. Bangladesh has been able to do so.

The raw material and capital machinery that Bangladesh imports from China and India is used in our export-oriented and domestic industries. Then Bangladesh is making that export to North America, where Bangladesh has a huge trade surplus.

But if we want to decrease the trade deficit with India, investment is one of the important tools. If we get substantial investment from India and can use that investment to produce goods and in turn export to India and the rest of the world, it will increase our trade integration with India and help close the trade gap.

Our joint study suggests how India and Bangladesh can gain from Cepa. We need working groups to negotiate trade and goods, services and investments. These working groups will involve ministries and other stakeholders.

People are wary about the possibility of India-weighted economic agreements. How probable is that? Will we benefit from this deal?

From this deal, both countries will benefit. If they don't, they will say they are not interested. For a deal like Cepa to materialise, the partners must be convinced that something is to be gained.

Being a larger country, India has more advantages. In some respect, India already has the upper hand. India's export capacity is ample. And regarding investment, Indian investors can be found all over the world.

When it comes to Bangladesh, we need to focus on three things. The first thing is about trading goods. Bangladesh already gets a duty free facility from India; Bangladesh will have to give the same facility to India. So Bangladesh and India will be on the same level concerning tariffs. But there is a considerable trade deficit, and we have a limited number of products we can export. So we need to be careful about this fact.

Secondly, some sectors might be afraid that Indian products will take over the market. In such FTA agreements, some products are kept out of the agreement. Bangladesh must pick which products it wants to keep out of the deal. We need to do the proper homework. We must be cautious about choosing which products to keep out of FTAs.

Thirdly, there is a valid concern that Bangladesh will face non-tariff barriers while exporting to India. For example, different types of procedural obstacles. These barriers have discouraged business people from exporting to India. Issues like high transition and freight costs need to be addressed. Otherwise, even after FTA, things would remain the same.

There are some risks in any FTA deal; it's not just about India. But yes, this deal is worth the risk. Bangladesh should also start talking with the EU about FTA. Because after 2029, three years after LDC graduation, instead of GSP, we will have to go for GSP+, which has a lot of conditions.

Is the deal political as much as it is economical?

India is the closest neighbour to Bangladesh. We are surrounded on three sides by India, and you can not change your neighbour.

The challenges we have with India are mainly political issues related to border, river-sharing as well as issues of mistrust – all of which have historical context. We can not change that overnight. But I think Bangladesh has been largely smart in trading with India. We can see that by comparing Bangladesh to Pakistan. Due to Pakistan's political relation with India, they buy Indian products from UAE at a higher price. It doesn't make much sense.

On the other hand, no matter our political relationship with India, we have prioritised our economy, regardless of who was in power.

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Did you know that bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Denmark has reached the mark of 1 billion USD?

The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and the Bangladesh Embassy in Denmark hosted a webinar on business and trade opportunities in Bangladesh. The speakers at the event highlighted that Bangladesh is one of the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets and there is a lot more room to boost the bilateral trade and investment between countries.

The speakers included:

Bangladeshi Ambassador to Denmark, H.E. Mr. M. Allama Siddiki

Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh, H.E. Ms. Winnie Estrup Petersen

Mr. Ole Linnet Juul, DI

Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Mr. Sirazul Islam

Director General of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA)

Commercial Counsellor & Head of Trade Mission at the Danish Embassy in Bangladesh, Mr. Ali Mushtaq Butt

Representatives from Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI), and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/trade/exports-to-india-see-robust-rise-1661655857

Exports to India see robust rise

Goods worth $1.99b shipped in FY '22: EPB data

 MONIRA MUNNI | Published:  August 28, 2022 09:04:18 | Updated:  August 29, 2022 10:07:09

1661656010.jpg

The country's overall exports to India reached US$1.99 billion in the last fiscal year (FY '22) marking a robust 55 per cent year-on-year growth.

Bangladesh shipped goods worth US$1.27 billion to the neighbouring country in the fiscal year 2020-21 or FY '21, according to an Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data.

The FY '22 export earnings surpassed the pre-pandemic level income which was US$1.24 billion in FY '19, the EPB data showed.

However, the country's trade cap with India continued to widen in the period.

Imports from India increased considerably over the years triggering a huge trade gap between the two neighbours, mostly in favour of India.

Bangladesh imported goods worth US $8.59 billion in the FY '21, according to data available with the central bank.

Readymade garment or RMG is the major local good (about 35 per cent) shipped to India followed by other products - raw hides, leather goods, jute goods, fish and crustaceans, inorganic and organic chemicals, sources said.

Out of the US $1.99 billion exports in FY '22, RMG (both woven and knit) items fetched $715.41 million, 69 per cent higher than the previous fiscal year's earnings of $ 421.86 million, according to the EPB.

Exporters, especially those shipping apparels, attributed the increase in exports to a growth in demand of these items among India's rising middle-class people.

They opined that India is among one of the Asian potential markets, not only for RMG but also for non-RMG products.

Western retailers, having outlets in India, and Indian local brands also found sourcing their goods from Bangladesh competitive while RMG enjoys duty benefit, they mentioned.

Talking to the FE, Fazlul Hoque, former president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said the growing middle-class in India is pushing up the demand for the Bangladesh-made garment items there.

During the last six months, apparel retailing in India increased by 18 per cent, he said, adding the local RMG exports may witness a fall in traditional markets while it will grow in Asian markets, especially in Indian market.

Besides the rising demands, Indian buyers' confidence in Bangladesh-produced quality goods have notably grown, he said, adding exporters are now getting huge queries from Indian buyers. Not only India but also China and Japan are big and potential Asian markets for local RMG items.

"We should now focus on Asian markets to sustain the growth at a time when the traditional markets including EU and US economy are poised to face economic recession," he noted.

He emphasised on taking measures by trade bodies, EPB, entrepreneurs and also at individual level to raise exports there.

Contacted, Md Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), echoed the BKMEA leader.

He said they are now focusing on the Asian markets with the view to sustaining the growth as work orders from traditional markets declined recently for multiple global factors, including inflation there and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Exporters are also taking moves individually to develop markets beyond the traditional ones, he noted.

The duty-free access to India has also encouraged Western buyers who have outlets there to source from Bangladesh through Indian market.

"Indian local clothing brands are also gaining confidence in our quality products," he said terming India a big and potential market for Bangladesh.

He stressed the need for developing full functional land ports like Bhomra and Sonamasjid to facilitate trade activities.

Local jute exporters, however, said their shipments to India are facing difficulties due to imposition of anti-dumping duty on jute goods by that country.

Abdul Barik Khan, secretary general of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA), said that jute exports to India fell significantly due to the anti-dumping duty on jute goods.

Sources, however, said that India may soon remove anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi jute-goods exports, dropping a hint that the announcement may come during the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Delhi in the first week of next month.

 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/exports-grow-38-yoy-august-riding-rmg-home-textiles-489618

Reyad Hossain

03 September, 2022, 09:55 pm

Last modified: 03 September, 2022, 10:50 pm

Exports grow 38% YoY in August riding on RMG, home textiles

export_0.jpg?itok=H61PWXDt&timestamp=166

Exports grew by around 38% to $4.67 billion in August compared with the same month last year driven by a number of products including readymade garments, home textiles, leather and jute goods, according to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

With the year-on-year export growth of more than 25% in the last two months, industry insiders say, the increased price of raw materials, increase in freight cost as well as shifting of some orders from China to Bangladesh are the main reasons behind the export growth.

Garment entrepreneurs say exports were relatively low in August of the last fiscal year 2021-22 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, they pointed out that this growth is likely to drop from November and December as the current flow of orders are low.

"In August last year there were some Covid-induced restrictions, due to which exports were low. As a result, the year-on-year export growth is high. But if we calculate month on month growth for ready-made garments, we will see that the export amount has decreased compared to July," Md Shahidullah Azim, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and exporters Association (BGMEA) told The Business Standard.

"Orders have started to decline and the clear impact of this will be seen in November and December," he added.

After the transition from the pandemic, the demand in Bangladesh's main export destination countries increased, and orders started to pour in. But after the Ukraine-Russia war started to drag on, they cut back on purchases, resulting in lower orders, which will be reflected in the next two to three months.

More than 80% of Bangladesh's exports come from the garment sector.

A section of apparel sector entrepreneurs and economists say that since Bangladesh produces more basic items of clothing and some buyers from China are coming to Bangladesh for various reasons, there may not be a major negative impact to orders in the coming days.

Shams Mahmud, an RMG exporter and former president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) told The Business Standard that several buyers, for example who used to purchase one lakh pieces of clothing earlier, are now making inquiries for two lakh pieces.

"If such orders are confirmed, there may not be any major negative reaction to the order in the coming months," he said.

Bangladesh's emerging exports include home textiles after the ready-made garments and home textiles entrepreneurs are not seeing any negative impact on orders yet.

M Shahadat Hossain Sohel, managing director of Towel Tex Limited and president at Bangladesh Terry Towel and Linen Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BTTLMEA) told The Business Standard, "We have a lot of export orders. Several orders are coming to Bangladesh from Pakistan. There is a possibility of more orders due to fresh flooding there."

However, despite the orders, the fuel price hike and daily load shedding is eating away their profits, he said.

"Due to load shedding, I'm having to use Tk92,000 worth of diesels every day. If this problem is not solved, the orders will come but there will be no profits," he added.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) considers the current pace of Bangladesh's exports to be satisfactory.

"Orders from China are coming to Bangladesh. This is hopeful news. But our rate of value addition is very low. Attention should be paid to this," he said.

"Besides, we need to increase our focus on the non-RMG sector. Then good growth can be expected from those sectors," added Mustafizur Rahman.

AHM Ahsan, vice chairman of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), however, thinks that Bangladesh would hold this export momentum for next two to three months also.

In the fiscal year 2021-22, Bangladesh's exports amounted to $52 billion, and the growth was more than 34%. In the current fiscal year, as part of some caution, the growth rate has been reduced to 11% and the target of exports of goods has been fixed at $58 billion.

According to EPB calculations, exports in the first two months of the fiscal year were more than $8.5 billion.

According to statistics, among the major export items, export of woven garments has seen a better growth than knitwear (34%), although the revenue from knitwear is higher. Besides, Bangladesh has seen good growth in exports of home textiles, specialised textiles, leather and leather products, plastic products, jute and jute goods and engineering products.

At the same time, exports of frozen and live fish and agricultural products decreased.

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03 September, 2022, 09:10 am

Last modified: 03 September, 2022, 09:14 am

Tripura’s trade volume with Bangladesh grew 158% in 3yrs: Indian official

Tripura's trade with Bangladesh used to be Rs390.68 crore, the figure now stands at Rs1,008.4 crore (Tk1.19 = Rs1)

 

TBS Report 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on September 6 to discuss trade relations between the two countries.

According to Indian officials, Tripura's trade volume with Bangladesh increased by 158% in the last three years. 

However, the bilateral trade relation is still uneven as only 30% of the trade volume involves export to Bangladesh and 70% of the trade comes from goods imported from the country. 

The matter is expected to be discussed by Narendra Modi with Sheikh Hasina on 6 September, reports Indian news outlet The Indian Express.

Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat, India's Special Secretary for Industries and Commerce Abhishek Chandra said while the trade volume with Bangladesh used to be Rs390.68 crore, the figures now stand at Rs1,008.4 crore (Tk1.19 = Rs1).

However, he said some problems still exist in some sectors and those would be taken up by Modi with Sheikh Hasina during her visit to New Delhi.

"There are still problems in some areas. Two Border Haats with Bangladesh were stopped during Covid and weren't restarted. We have requested to allow movement of goods and services in these but it's still awaiting approval. 

"There is also some objection about an Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Muhurighat in South Tripura. Prime Minister Modi has agreed to take up these issues with the Bangladesh premier on 6 September," the official added.

Speaking on the trade deficit on the Indian side, the official said the state government has identified 26 products where the trade volume could increase but only 16 of them were permitted for export by Bangladesh. 

These include rubber and tea, two of the most important cash crops of Tripura, which has the potential of significantly boosting the state's trade prospects.

"Rubber goes to Bangladesh from Petrapole-Benapole in West Bengal (WB). If we could send it from here, it could alone boost the prospects. Our tea can be exported there with 80 % duty, which makes it uncompetitive in Bangladesh. That's why our trade balance is skewed. The PM would take up different issues from northeast India with the Bangladesh premier, including issues pertaining to Tripura."

In terms of volume, Indo-Bangla trade through six Land Customs Stations (LCS) and Integrated Check Posts in Tripura increased by Rs14.65 crore in 2018-19, by Rs30.34 crore in 2019-20 and Rs16.39 crore in 2020-21.

The industries and commerce special secretary also said as a part of the sectoral development, the Indo-Bangla friendship bridge on River Feni would be inaugurated on 9 September. 

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/economy/2022/09/07/what-is-cepa-and-how-does-it-benefit-bangladeshs-economy

What is Cepa and how does it benefit Bangladesh’s economy?

Cepa has the potential to be a game-changing agreement given the economic and geographical potential of the two countries

 

Tribune Desk

September 7, 2022 5:31 PM

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said rising energy prices are presently posing a challenge to all developing countries and fruitful talks between Bangladesh and India are underway on connecting power transmission lines.

"The unveiling of the first unit of Maitree Thermal Power Plant will increase the availability of affordable electricity in Bangladesh," he said after his extensive discussions with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on all bilateral, regional and international issues.

The Indian PM said his country is the largest market in Asia for Bangladesh's exports and to further accelerate this growth, they will soon start discussions on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa).

"Our bilateral trade is growing rapidly."

Modi also said that the two economies will be able to connect more with each other, support each other with the expansion of connectivity between the two countries and the development of trade infrastructure on the border.

For India, Bangladesh is India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia.

The bilateral trade has grown from $9 billion to $18 billion in the last five years.

It has also become the fourth largest export destination for India with the exports registering a growth of over 66% from $9.69 billion in FY21 to $16.15 billion in FY22.

Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra later told reporters that the two leaders have asked for the negotiations to be completed “in time for Bangladesh’s final graduation from LDC status”.

Bangladesh is scheduled to graduate from the Least Developed Country status in November 2026.  

It is also India’s largest trade partner in South Asia with major exports from India including cotton, cereals, fuel, vehicle parts and machinery and mechanical appliances.

Why Cepa?

Cepa has the potential to be a game-changing agreement given the economic and geographical potential of the two countries, doctoral researcher Doreen Chowdhury wrote for The Diplomat recently.

The proposed Cepa between Bangladesh and India has three dimensions, namely trade in goods, trade in services, and investment. 

The main target of the proposed agreement is to reduce the huge trade gap between Bangladesh and India and open up new economic opportunities including connectivity, new markets, and cooperation and partnership.

Moreover, the Cepa is planned to resolve the issues and challenges of anti-dumping duties and rules of origin through the perspective of multi-modal connectivity and deepening of cooperation in the context of the sub-regional cooperation.

According to an official statement released by India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Cepa will incorporate a variety of issues of mutual interest, including the development of railway infrastructure, port infrastructure, border haats (trading posts), regional connectivity through multi-modal transportation, harmonization of standards, and a mutual recognition agreement.

Further, the agreement looks to step up cooperation in new areas such as green technologies, renewables, and IT and digital platforms. 

In addition, the agreement focuses on four areas for strengthening India-Bangladesh partnership including connectivity and maintaining uninterrupted supply chain, joint production of defense equipment, the exploring of potential areas of investments, and joint manufacturing of vaccines and other medicines. 

First, against the backdrop of growing bilateral trade, the trading regime between the two countries, including imports, exports, and related rules and regulations, will get new momentum as the agreement has instruments to work jointly on trade, supply chains, and production, Chowdhury further stated.

If Cepa is operationalized, bilateral trade potential could be $40 billion.

Second, the agreement will boost bilateral and sub-regional connectivity that Bangladesh has championed in its policy initiatives.

The Cepa will produce a cluster of connectivity which will shape future trade through the Asian Highway Network routes (AH-1 and 2); the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Initiative; the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Economic Corridor; and Bimstec – the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.

Third, the agreement will create new venues for cooperation and partnership and open up opportunities for the creation of joint production hubs and uninterrupted supply chains, which will create new markets for both countries.

Bangladesh has already set up three Special Economic Zones for Indian investors and Indian companies are investing in various sectors including telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, and automobile manufacturing in Bangladesh.

Fourth, as Bangladesh prepares for its dual graduation journey (middle-income graduation and LDC graduation), the agreement will be important for harnessing the potential opportunities by addressing the attendant concerns and leveraging the initiatives. 

And fifth, Cepa will generate revenues for both Bangladesh and India as the connectivity and trade along territorial and maritime borders increases. 

Challenges

As per the World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations, all border duties and undue restrictions must be eliminated, covering at least 90% of trade in goods with partner countries, and service must cover substantially all sectors.

Hence, it may impact Bangladesh’s import duties. Reciprocity should be maintained while striking the deal, Doreen Chowdhury further suggested.

To fully harness the benefits of an FTA, a country should have a diversified export basket to balance trade volumes, she added.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Prof Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the CPD said that now was a very opportune time to deepen the bilateral trade relations between Dhaka and Delhi.

The signing of the Cepa can be a win-win for both countries as such a deal covers trade, investment, connectivity, logistics, and various policy coordination issues, he added.

 “But once we sign Cepa, we will have to shift to reciprocity from non-reciprocity,” he said, adding that in that case, if there is a two-track policy for Bangladesh as a relatively weaker economy, with regard to trade liberalization, tariff liberalization, compliance assurance under Cepa, it will be better for Bangladesh.

Along with tariff issues, Bangladesh also needs to focus on how it can boost investment in India's north-eastern region and attract Indian investors to the special economic zones through Cepa.

“India has competitive advantages over us in the fields of services, IT, and software. If we can enhance our collaboration with it in those areas, our services exports to the country will go up,” he added.

If Bangladesh can reach Indian standards through mutual initiative and the help of the South Asian Regional Standards Organization, it will help to address the existing issues, such as anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

“Our trade with India is mainly done through land ports. So, we can maximize gains from Cepa by building an integrated customs system as well as interoperability of the system and a single window at land ports,” Rahman added.

Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Shahidullah Azim, acting president of the BGMEA, said that the trade deficit between Bangladesh and India is very high, at more than $7.35 billion. 

If Cepa is signed there is a possibility of reducing this trade deficit, he also said.

Azim also said that Bangladesh imported a big chunk of raw materials from India.

“Moreover, India is one of the new markets we have targeted for apparel export. Once the agreement is made, we can import duty-free materials from India and export the finished products further to India,” he mentioned.

In this regard, the contract should be negotiated in such a way that the exporters of our country get the maximum advantages, he added 

 

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https://www.thedailystar.net/business/economy/news/goods-transit-thru-india-holds-great-prospects-3114991

Goods transit thru India holds great prospects

The neighbour’s offer is expected to boost Bangladesh’s export

Refayet Ullah Mirdha

Fri Sep 9, 2022 08:10 AM Last update on: Fri Sep 9, 2022 08:12 AM

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India's offer of free transit will expand the regional and sub-regional market for Bangladesh's exporters since it would allow them to ship goods to countries such as Nepal and Bhutan, said officials, economists and businessmen. 

New Delhi has offered the free movement of goods facility via its territory during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to the neighbouring country, according to the joint statement issued on September 7.

This means Bangladesh can export products to third countries such as Nepal and Bhutan through specific land customs stations, airports, and seaports of India.

If the facility is implemented properly, the pressure on Chattogram, which handles more than 90 per cent of Bangladesh's seaborne trade, will also lessen to a large extent.

The transit facility will also create scope for exporters to diversify markets and products, vital for Bangladesh as it is set to lose duty benefits in export destinations following the country's graduation to a developing nation in 2026.

"Bangladesh will gain a lot from the offer if it can be implemented properly," said Selim Raihan, executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling, a research firm.

"If exporters can carry goods to an Indian land port, seaport or airport in order to ship them to a third country, they will be able to save time and costs since Chattogram port is often congested and expensive. It will also reduce the pressure on the ports in Bangladesh."

Md Saiful Islam, president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, suggested Bangladesh accept the offer as it would directly open up new markets like Nepal and Bhutan.

"Moreover, Bangladesh will be able to send goods easily to Myanmar in the future. Our exports will receive a boost if the transit facility can be used."

The move will also increase people-to-people contact, which will translate into greater connectivity, trade and business, the entrepreneur added.

Mohammad Hatem, executive president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, thinks the transit facility will give greater market access not only to garment items, but also to other goods.

"Nepal and Bhutan will be the direct market for Bangladeshi goods such as garments, cement, and food items. It will help expand our export basket."

Currently, Bangladesh can't send goods directly to Nepal and Bhutan through India.

Now, Bangladeshi trucks and covered vans carry goods up to the land ports concerned. Nepalese or Bhutanese trucks then carry the them to their countries using India as both landlocked countries have land transit agreements with their bigger neighbour.

In the absence of direct routes, Bangladesh's exports to both Nepal and Bhutan have been negligible.

The shipment to Bhutan was $10 million in the fiscal year that ended in June, up from $7 million a year ago, data from the Export Promotion Bureau showed.

Exports fetched $106 million from Nepal, up from $69 million in the fiscal year of 2020-21.

Mahbubul Haque, additional secretary of the free trade agreement wing of the commerce ministry, also admits that the transit facility would bring positive benefits to Bangladesh.

"But the offer has to be analysed by the government as many issues are involved."

The Indian offer is, however, nothing new since it has been stated in the documents of the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement.

The pact is yet to be finalised as the Bhutanese parliament has expressed reservations, while Nepal is also showing apathy in signing the deal, said Raihan, a professor of the Department of Economics at the University of Dhaka.

The economist thinks if two members of the BBIN agree on the free movement of vehicles, other members will also feel encouraged in activating the deal for greater regional trade.

Bangladesh already allows the transshipment of goods from India's mainland to its northeastern states. Recently, the trial runs for the transshipment of containers from the neighbouring country took place using Mongla and Chattogram ports.

Turning India's offer into reality will not be without challenges.

"A lot of coordination and cooperation is required among the ministries, the tax administration, and many other government agencies," Prof Raihan said.

Dhaka has already requested rail connectivity with Bhutan through the newly inaugurated Chilahati-Haldibari route. New Delhi has agreed to consider the request.

In order to make the route and cross-border rail links viable, India has urged Bangladesh to remove port restrictions, the joint statement also said.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/dhaka-cautiously-weighs-export-revenue-losses-1662777558

Dhaka cautiously weighs export, revenue losses

Look before you leap into vast bloc RCEP: Experts

 REZAUL KARIM | Published:  September 10, 2022 08:39:18 | Updated:  September 10, 2022 13:38:01

Experts have cautioned that Bangladesh's exports might shrink and industries suffer setbacks if the country joins a new free-trading bloc called RCEP, unless its privileged market access is secured.

A recent high-profile meeting was told that the exports to many of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries could fall in the range between 9.0 per cent and 31 per cent unless preferential market-access facilities are available during post-graduation era.

These countries and probable export losses are: Japan 30.53 per cent, South Korea 27.53, New Zealand 11 per cent, Australia 11 per cent, Thailand 8.93 per cent and China 8.29 per cent, according to sources.

Keeping this prospect in view, the meeting suggested assessment of all possible aspects and challenges before joining in the vast economic bloc.

The Ministry of Commerce convened the meeting, as part of doing homework ahead of negotiations, to review possible benefits and risks of joining the China-backed economic grouping-the latest of a numerous blocs proposed or in the making in the region and beyond lately.

Besides, a good number of country's industrial units may be hurt, save apparel, beverages and tobacco, according to the views elicited from the meeting.

However, investment volume will increase, by an estimated 3.36 per cent, and that might create a positive impact on bilateral trade with RCEP member-nations as it is a Mega Regional Trade Agreement (RTA).

Before accession into the RCEP, Bangladesh has decided to further review the possibilities and challenges in terms of industrial capacity, overall revenue risk, investment potential, service sector, regional value chain and e-commerce, according to the meeting minutes.

It has also decided to take political guidance regarding the initiation of the accession process of Bangladesh into the world's largest alliance.

Bangladesh has decided to look into the inclusion process of Hong Kong and Macau into RCEP as they have applied recently for joining it.

The meeting discussed the necessity of a study on what will be the market access of Bangladeshi potential products and how much investment may come into Bangladesh from the RCEP countries.

The RCEP, which came into being in January 2022, is a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the others.

The ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and its five FTA partners are Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

Being the world's largest free-trade turf, the 15 RCEP-participating countries account for almost half the world population and contribute about 30 per cent to global GDP and over a quarter to world exports.

A recent Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) study mentioned that the Asia-Pacific bloc represents 2.3 billion inhabitants, contributes US$25.8 trillion or about 30 per cent of global GDP, and accounts for $12.7 trillion or over a quarter of global trade in goods and services, and 31 per cent of global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.

The volume of export of Bangladeshi goods in the area stood at $3.9 billion and imported goods worth $24.5 billion in the fiscal year (FY) 2020-21. On the other hand, at the same time, the volume of services export was $1.8 billion and import worth $2.6 billion in the same period.

Bangladesh currently gets preferential market facility in many of the RCEP countries in the form of preferential trade agreement (PTA) or GSP facilities.

Many developed countries would not provide duty-free facilities to Bangladesh after its graduation from the LDC status in 2026 and get exposed to open competition in its external trade after 2029.

The study mentions RCEP includes some of the major export destinations as well as major import sources of Bangladesh. Considering the bilateral-trade scenario, RCEP remains more as an important partner from the Bangladesh perspective.

Imports from RCEP contribute around 43.92 per cent of the total global imports of Bangladesh, 55.33 per cent of the total tax revenue and 58.56 per cent of total revenue from customs duty collected under home consumption, as of FY 2020-21.

Since some major import sources of Bangladesh, like China, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, are involved with RCEP, there is a threat of losing certain amount of revenue from these countries.

More than 68 per cent of total merchandise exports to RCEP are under apparel-product category. Top twenty export items to RCEP mostly consist of apparel products and these twenty products constitute 64 per cent of total export items.

It says the probable increase in import along with a comparatively protective regime of Bangladesh estimated a probable high revenue loss for Bangladesh compared to that of the RCEP.

"We are working on RCEP-joining issue--it will take time to start negotiation," a senior official of the commerce ministry said.

Echoing the same tone imminent economist Prof Mustafizur Rahman says the government should conduct study on the pros and cons prior to joining the RCEP.

"Since various issues, including investment, services, trade and communications etc are related with the joining of such bloc, a thorough study is necessary to this effect," adds Prof Rahman, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).

He noted that Bangladesh would be enjoying preferential market access to various countries for certain time after its LDC graduation.

"So if we join the bloc immediately, it might narrow down such opportunities."

 

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https://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/first-page/do-sufficient-homework-to-make-policies-suitable-1662828228

Regional trade cooperation

Do sufficient homework to make policies suitable

Economists suggest at a book launching ceremony

 FE Report |  September 11, 2022 00:00:00

Economists at a function on Saturday stressed the need for doing sufficient homework to make the country's trade policies and strategies suitable for regional cooperation agreements.

Regional trade among the South Asian countries is only 5.0 per cent as compared to 25 per cent in (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) ASEAN countries and 50-60 per cent in European Union countries, they said.

The trade cost between Bangladesh and Nepal is higher than that of Bangladesh-Brazil, Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), pointed out at a book launching ceremony in the capital.

"ASEAN countries are bypassing us as we are not doing our homework to identify the barriers," he added.

Dr Selim Raihan, Executive Director of South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), termed South Asia a less-integrated region and said, "Our internal policies and strategies are not favourable yet for regional cooperation agreements."

He also said that the exporters of Bangladesh were raising allegations of non-tariff barriers in India.

Dr Md Neyamul Islam, First Secretary of Customs wing under the National Board of Revenue (NBR), authored the book titled 'The Understanding of Free Trade Agreements" which was published by the University Press Limited.

Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Md Akhrauzzaman was chief guest at the programme. International Trade Expert Nesar Ahmed, Director General of Department of Film and Publication under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting S. M. Golam Kibria, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Md Abu Yousuf, among others, spoke at the programme.

Dr Mustafizur Rahman said the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) have dispute settlement clauses, but have never been used.

"We have to look at SAFTA and beyond. Now, the world is not limited to only SAARC countries," he said.

He also pointed out that the country could not utilise the Indian Line of Credit (LoC).

The economists laid emphasis on focusing on the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement, BIMSTEC, and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to enhance regional trade.

Mr Nesar Ahmed said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would not erode customs revenue collection as study proves that the overall trade volume would increase.

He said SAFTA has offered concessionary duty benefits for import of a number of products, so it should not be considered dead.

The DU VC has appreciated the theme of the book as it is a time-befitting one.

Mr Abu Yousuf said the preferential tariff may not continue after the country's graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status in 2026.

"Traditional SAFTA would not work. CEPA and RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) are new generation agreements that can be added to this book as another chapter," he added.

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