Speakers at a discussion meeting said the proposals that had been placed in the 12th ministerial conference (MC-12) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva were not getting prioritised due to the negligence of developed countries.
They gave the opinion at a discussion titled “WTO-MC12 Outcomes: Next Steps for Bangladesh as a Graduating LDC”, organised by CPD in partnership with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Bangladesh, held at the CIRDAP conference hall on Sunday.
They said Bangladesh is the only country that has adequately utilised the opportunities available as an LDC.
The speakers said the country has increased exports using preferential market facilities, but the question now is whether such opportunities will continue.
They said the announcement of MC-12 mentions several challenges after graduation, but no promises were made to overcome them.
CPD’s distinguished fellow professor Dr. Mustafizur Rahman presented a keynote paper on the topic, highlighting that the demands of least developed countries have been ignored in the WTO-MC12. The conference prioritised important agenda for developed and wealthy countries.
Dr. Mustafizur said the main agenda of Bangladesh is the LDC graduation.
“Most of the six countries with earlier graduations are small economies. Bangladesh is a country that was able to take maximum advantage. But many benefits will be lost after graduation from the LDC. Almost 90 percent of the benefits in the export sector will not be there for Bangladesh,” he said.
He said if export performance is to be sustained and improved, shifting from the choice-driven competition to efficiency and productivity-driven competition is very vital.
He said that the government should set up a separate and dedicated cell to exclusively discuss and secure Bangladesh's interests in international trade platforms.
He also said that because of the negligence of the rich countries, the graduating countries weaken.
“We need to change our mindset considering the future as non-LDC developing country. Priority should be given to issues related to regional cooperation and bilateral trade agreements,” Dr. Mustafiz said.
Yussuf Abdullah Harun, MP, Member, Standing Committee on Ministry of Commerce, was present as chief guest while Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow of CPD, chaired the programme.
Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Md. Jashim Uddin, President, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI), Hafizur Rahman, Director General, WTO Cell of Ministry of Commerce, and Dr. Mostafa Abid Khan, Trade specialist and former Member of Bangladesh Tariff and Trade Commission, Felix Kolbitz, Resident Representative of FES spoke at the event.