Utilise export opportunities emerging due to Russia-Ukraine war: PM Hasina
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today (March 20, 2023) put emphasis on formulating new long term export policy for Bangladesh, considering graduation to a developing country from LDC after 2026. “After 2026, while we will graduate to a developing country from LDC, we will get some opportunities… We have to utilise those opportunities to make our economy stronger and develop the country further,” she said. The prime minister said this while speaking at the 11th meeting of the National Committee on Export, at her official residence Ganabhaban. She mentioned that after graduating to a developing nation, the next aim will be to become a developed one. Read More: Canada to increase potash exports to Bangladesh to boost food production, says country’s trade ministry Sheikh Hasina also asked the concerned to utilise opportunities regarding enhancing Bangladesh’s export items that have emerged due to Russia-Ukraine war. She said that due to Russia-Ukraine was, there is an opportunity for Bangladesh to create new markets with its own products. In this regard, she said that many countries have already shown interest to import food items from Bangladesh. “We could export food items after fulfilling local demands. We can take initiatives for that,” she said. Read More: Simplified policy, product diversification could boost exports to UK over $12 billion by 2029: Study says She said that immense opportunities could be created through establishing food processing industries in the country and export those items. The PM said that the government has given importance to the export sector. “After assuming office, we have taken steps to formulate long term export policies instead of policies on one-year basis. To sustain achievements, there is no alternative to long term strategy,” she said. She said that the government has formulated export policy until 2024 (2021-2024). Read More: Apparel export to EU up 14.3% during July-February of FY23 “…But what will we do after that? In the meantime, we are graduating to a developing country. I think this is the right time to consider what we will do in the coming days or how we will advance,” she said. She put emphasis on setting the next moves for economy, keeping in mind the current economic turmoil across the globe. “We have to find new markets across the globe. We have to diversify our products, we have to include new items in our export basket,” she said. The PM said that the Awami League government has given utmost importance to the private sector and it opened every sector to entrepreneurs as it is not possible for the government alone to develop the country. Read More: 'India a great potential market for Bangladesh's RMG exports' For the development of the export sector, she said, a strategy needs to be adopted and products have to be identified. “For that we have formulated a prospective plan – to turn the country into a developed one by 2041,” she said. The PM also mentioned ICT and digital devices, RMG, pharmaceuticals, light and medium weight industries, motor vehicles and electronic motor vehicles, while talking about diversifying products. She said that the government is preparing 100 economic zones with investment from home and abroad. Read More: Bangladesh export income rises despite bad global economy “Bangladesh has been able to attract foreign investments,” PM Hasina said.
Switzerland to work with all Bangladeshi stakeholders for a ‘smooth, inclusive, sustainable’ LDC graduation
Outgoing Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard has said that as a “solid and agile” development partner, Switzerland will work with all stakeholders in Bangladesh and its multifaceted cooperation will take on crucial issues to make the latter’s graduation from least-developed status “smooth, inclusive and sustainable”. “The country is now at a crossroads with the upcoming graduation from the LDCs group. Switzerland welcomes this exciting development,” she told UNB in an exclusive interview. Nonetheless, the ambassador said, this graduation carries with it both opportunities and challenges, and it will be essential to prepare for post-graduation scenarios – leaving no one behind, addressing structural issues and making the private sector more competitive. “Being a country vulnerable to climate change, managing climate and disaster risks is another pressing challenge,” she said. Read more: Switzerland will continue to be a reliable partner for Bangladesh: Nathalie Chuard Evaluating the bilateral relations today, the Swiss envoy said 50 years is quite a long time but it is also only the beginning. “Since the birth of your nation, we have grown a solid, diversified and robust partnership. This relation has evolved, and I am really glad when I see where we are today and also where we are heading,” she said. During the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the bilateral ties last year, Ambassador Chuard said they were able to showcase the scope and diversity of the partnership. “We launched our new Bangladesh Country Program that is aligned on the objectives of the Agenda 2030 and aims at supporting your country’s development for the years to come,” she said, adding that they danced to the songs of “Nodi Rocks”, an initiative for the youth to raise awareness on climate change and protecting rivers through music. Read more: Switzerland a serious global player, reliable partner of Bangladesh: Ambassador Chuard Together with other partners, the envoy said, they held exhibitions in Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar to underscore the significance of humanitarian principles. “For the first time, our bilateral trade also crossed the significant milestone of US $1 billion in 2022. I think all these aspects show how diverse and multifaceted our relations have become. While I look back, I am really proud of what we have accomplished together, and looking forward to the next steps of our common journey,” she said. Responding to a question, Ambassador Chuard said Bangladesh is a beautiful country, boasting a colourful and vibrant society always full of energy. “I have been lucky enough to travel widely throughout Bangladesh – from the chars in Gaibandha to the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Sundarbans. Far away from Dhaka’s hustle and bustle, experiences such as a motorbike ride in a far-flung Char has surely given me another perspective of this country, and I have loved doing it! The people here are amazing and exceptionally resilient.” Read more: Swiss Ambassador Chuard sees “massive potential” to boost trade, investment with Bangladesh She also said, “Whether we talk about climate change or economic development, Bangladesh is everything from the chars, the agriculture to the busy ports or urban centers and its readymade garment factories, and it has been important for me to experience it firsthand. It is about the diversity of your country. It is also in all these fields, and many more, that Switzerland has worked with Bangladesh on its journey.” Wherever she has been, Ambassador Chuard said, she has always felt welcome. “What maybe has impressed me the most are the women and the role they have played in the country's socioeconomic advancement.” Switzerland has also supported numerous projects towards women’s empowerment and participation, including in the political arena, Chuard said. On that note, the ambassador mentioned that Bangladesh is preparing for its next national election, expected to be held in January 2024. Read More: Newly appointed Bangladesh envoy Sufiur presents credentials to Swiss president, seeks better relations “We call on all stakeholders, including political parties, to uphold and ensure citizens’ voting rights and I hope that these elections will be free, fair and credible. This is an important signal for Bangladesh and its citizens,” she said. The ambassador said the two countries are working on an air service agreement and one MoU regarding knowledge partnership. “While these are still under negotiation, I am confident that these agreements will pave the way for broadening the horizon of our future relations,” she said. The Swiss envoy said, “I find that there is another positive development and it is related to the area of exchanging banking information.” Read More: Switzerland, UNDP sign deal to promote peaceful, inclusive societies for sustainable development Switzerland is one of the world’s leading financial centers, they have made substantial contributions to international standards, and are committed to their effective enforcement. “My country has been very dedicated to continue cooperating with Bangladesh on this topic in accordance with globally recognized procedures. In this regard, I am encouraged by the discussions that have taken place, following our proposals to tackle illicit financial flows,” Ambassador Chuard said. GLOBAL CRISIS AND DIPLOMACY Asked whether diplomacy is always effective in solving major global issues like the Rohingya crisis, the Swiss envoy said, “Obviously, as a career diplomat, I strongly believe in diplomacy… There is no doubt that solutions are found in diplomacy.” To prevent conflict, she said, all parties need to talk together in order to find solutions and common ground. “Diplomacy is a highly powerful and effective tool for nations and stakeholders to communicate and develop mutually accepted solutions.” Read More: Info Exchange: Bangladesh, Switzerland to discuss ways to develop mechanism The ambassador said the world is facing numerous crises at the same time, and people are very worried and affected in various ways. “With the recovery from the pandemic, the aggression against Ukraine and the omnipresent climate change, none of us really knows how it will play out,” she said. “If there is one thing that these global challenges have taught us, it is the importance of reaching consensus, defending a rules-based order, pushing for global peace and prosperity and strengthening multilateralism. Diplomacy and bringing stakeholders together are more important than ever, particularly for countries like Bangladesh and Switzerland,” Chuard said. Since the first of January and for the next two years, Switzerland is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Read More: Switzerland keen to work with Bangladesh to increase farmers’ socio-economic resilience against climatic risks “Our entry to this important UN body stems from my country’s strong affinity for multilateralism and willingness to play its role to stand up for a just and peaceful international order,” she said. The membership to the UN body is also a great opportunity to collaborate closely with Bangladesh on vital global peace, security and development challenges, Chuard said. “For my country, it is very important that the Rohingya crisis is not forgotten and that a lasting and sustainable solution is found. And until the conditions for the return of the refugees are met, we will continue to stand next to Bangladesh to support the response to the crisis,” said the envoy. Responding to a question, Ambassador Chuard said diplomacy is a continuous process and requires not only skills but also convictions. Read More: Nagad, Swisscontact team up to enhance financial inclusion of RMG workers “It is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. One must remain persistent and continue working on pending topics and challenges. And if someone tells you that diplomacy does not work, that means that we should try harder,” she said. DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION Switzerland is an “effective, innovative and committed” development partner of Bangladesh and development cooperation has traditionally been a foundation of the bilateral ties, the ambassador said. Over the last five decades, Switzerland has supported Bangladesh with over $1 billion in development cooperation and humanitarian aid. “The modalities of our cooperation with Bangladesh have evolved over time and our current ongoing cooperation programme aims to assist the sustainable graduation of Bangladesh from the LDC group, develop a more prosperous, just and resilient society, and foster peaceful coexistence,” she added. Read More: Switzerland keen to invest in Bangladesh’s disaster-prone areas “Switzerland will invest around Tk 1450 crore to implement this program by 2025. In close partnership with all stakeholders, our program complements the support for more trade and direct foreign investment with the promotion of the Swiss key values of good governance and respect of human rights to ensure sustainability, including for economic growth,” said Ambassador Chuard. ECONOMIC COOPERATION The Swiss envoy said economic cooperation has become another strong pillar of the bilateral relations between the two countries. “Since my arrival in 2020, I have observed the great potential and a shared goal with our counterparts here to increase trade and investment between our countries,” she said, adding that the situation seems promising, taking into account the trend over the last period. The bilateral trade crossed the landmark $1 billion threshold in 2022, for the first time ever. The envoy said, “And for us, a country with roughly the same population as Chattogram, this is a significant outcome, making us one of Bangladesh’s most active trading partners!” She said Swiss investors have a strong and diverse footprint in the country and they provide cutting-edge and essential products, technologies and services in many crucial economic sectors. “My impression is that our companies are increasingly becoming advanced technology suppliers for the local market and businesses, enabling the expansion of the latter. I am confident that more technological partnerships and Swiss investments will follow, including green technologies, if we can tap more into the diversity of trade and investment promotion tools on each side,” she said. INVESTMENT CLIMATE The Swiss envoy said the level of foreign direct investment remains relatively low in the country and climate-related issues therefore frequently feature in many of her meetings with Bangladeshi decision-makers. Read More: Swiss Ambassador Chuard sees “massive potential” to boost trade, investment with Bangladesh “I welcome the several measures that the government has undertaken in recent years to attract new investments and improve the ease of doing business. In my view, it is clearly a win-win since foreign investments are also crucial to take Bangladesh to its next level of development,” she said. “In this context, I would like to mention that if you take care of them well, the existing investors can become your country’s best ambassadors for attracting more FDIs,” she added. NEXT DESTINATION “As a diplomat, I have been to many countries and I put my heart where my mission is. Bangladesh is no different. As of the first of March, I will be the new director of the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF),” said the envoy. DCAF has programs that touch on more than 70 countries and facilitates, drives and shapes security sector reform policy and programming worldwide. Read More: Bangladesh, Switzerland discuss celebration of 50 years of ties in Davos “I am glad and honored to take on this new challenge at such a crucial time and find it very motivating to lead an organization that makes states and people safer, and promotes good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights,” she said. “This is at the core of what my country stands for and so close to my heart. As a Swiss diplomat, I am also proud to soon be part of “International Geneva” and promote its vision of a world of peace, rights and prosperity,” the Swiss envoy mentioned.
Private sector should prepare to face challenges of LDC graduation, FBCCI president says at AGM
FBCCI president Md Jashim Uddin said Bangladesh's graduation from the Least Developed Country will strengthen the image of the country in the international arena along with creating huge trade and investment opportunities. The president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) said this at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the organisation held at a convention hall in the capital on Wednesday. Read more: FBCCI wants to enhance bilateral trade relations with Mozambique Due to Covid-19 Pandemic, the AGM of the session 2020-2021 could not be held as per schedule. As a result, two separate AGMs of the session 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 were held on the same day. He said, “Bangladesh will lose special trade privileges in several markets including in Europe, one of the top export destinations of the country, as a result of the LDC graduation. The private sector has to face competition in maintaining the price and product quality. This is why emphasis should be given to research, innovation, and product diversification.” To make sustainable export trading, the government should initiate more bilateral trade agreements including Free Trade Agreements (FTA), and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTA), he said. Read more: FBCCI urges policy support in tourism development Jashim emphasized obtaining certificates from various institutions, reducing complexity in its renewal, effective automation, and increasing the capacity of port management to attract more foreign investment. “The Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine crisis have resulted in an abnormal increase in energy price, food price, agricultural production cost, industrial raw materials, parts, and transportation cost. High inflation is also occurring in currency exchange rates. Rising costs of doing business have made it difficult for local entrepreneurs to survive in the global competition,” he said. In such a situation, he suggested that the private sector should focus on increasing the use of technology in the industry, creating a skilled workforce, increasing efficiency in business management, and increasing the capacity to produce goods at competitive prices. In the ongoing situation, the FBCCI President urged the District Chambers and Associations to be more proactive to maintain productivity. At the same time, he suggested identifying sector-wise problems and bringing them up at the policy-making level through FBCCI. FBCCI former president Abdul Matlub Ahmad, former first vice president Mohammad Ali, Monowara Hakim Ali, former vice president Abu Alam Chowdhury, Dewan Sultan Ahmed, Helal Uddin, and others participated in the open discussion.
LDC Graduation: Bangladesh seeks continued support from Sweden
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam has said Bangladesh looks forward to Sweden’s continued support to make the LDC graduation smooth and sustainable. He hoped that Bangladesh’s onward march to becoming a reliable partner in the global supply chain can be supported by Sweden. State Minister Alam reaffirmed the pledge to work together with Sweden for the collective well-being of shared humanity and hoped that the relations between Bangladesh and Sweden would continue to grow in depth and dimensions in the coming days. Read more: Sweden to partner UNFPA in projects worth over $10 million
Bangladesh seeks Sweden's continued support to make LDC graduation smooth, sustainable
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Tuesday said Bangladesh looks forward to Sweden's continued support to make the LDC graduation smooth and sustainable. He hoped that Bangladesh's onward march to becoming a reliable partner in the global supply chain can be supported by Sweden. State Minister Alam reaffirmed the pledge to work together with Sweden for the collective well-being of shared humanity and hoped that the relations between Bangladesh and Sweden would continue to grow in depth and dimensions in the coming days. Read more: Bangladesh-Sweden further cooperation can yield more mutual benefits: BGMEA He attended as the guest of honour at a reception on the occasion of Lucia, as well as the celebration of 50 years of bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Sweden. Sweden's Ambassador to Bangladesh, Alexandra Berg von Linde, hosted the reception. The Lucia reception, one of the foremost cultural Swedish traditions, was held at Edge Gallery at Bay's Edgewater in Gulshan 2 of the capital. The State Minister said that Lucia reception marks the end of the year, and looking back on 2022, Sweden and Bangladesh relations have strengthened, with new avenues of cooperation emerging as well. He recalled Sweden was among the first European countries to have recognised an independent Bangladesh in early 1972. The government and people of Sweden stood by Bangladesh as the country embarked on a difficult reconstruction and rehabilitation journey under the leadership of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Sweden has been a steadfast partner in Bangladesh's development trajectory in the last five decades, with active footprints in good governance, labour rights, trade, investment, disaster risk reduction, environmental protection, education, cultural cooperation, and humanitarian assistance. Lucia is an old tradition celebrated all over Sweden in the making of Christmas. Read more: Sustainability an important part of our future bilateral ties with Bangladesh: Swedish Minister As a part of this, Sweden Embassy in Dhaka organised the celebration. Diplomats, editors and political leaders, among others, were present.
‘Rich countries ignoring proposals regarding LDC graduation’
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. Read: Global trade will grow a lackluster 1% in 2023, WTO predicts 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. Read: WTO Conference: Bangladesh speaks against sudden ban on food export 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.
LDC graduation to present challenges as well as opportunities: Commerce Secretary
Commerce Secretary Dr Tapan Kanti Ghosh has acknowledged that the country's impending graduation from the least developed countries (LDC) grouping would present new challenges as well as opportunities for the economy. He made the remarks while addressing a consultation meeting of the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) titled “Identification of Trade-related Graduation Challenges and Preparation of Sector-Specific Trade Roadmaps for Overcoming the Challenges” on Tuesday. The BFTI, a subordinate body of the Commerce Ministry to deal with issues under the World Trade Organization (WTO), organised the meeting to discuss the findings of its recently conducted research on post-graduation challenges to trade and business. Read more: LDC Graduation: Bangladesh, Lao PDR, Nepal join UN-led exchange on smooth transition The commerce secretary said the public and private sectors must work together to address the LDC graduation challenge. “There is no option but diversification of products and exports to overcome the graduation challenge and to develop trade,” he said adding, "The government has taken various steps for ease of doing business and all the ministries and agencies of the government are working together." In the consultation meeting, the stakeholders discussed different issues to identify and overcome trade-related challenges of LDC graduation. They made different suggestions for developing a roadmap on trade for 4 sectors of light engineering, plastic products, leather & leather products and non-leather footwear. Earlier, a similar stakeholder consultation meeting was held on November 3 to draw up a trade-related roadmap for different sectors including manufactured garments, shipbuilding industry, agricultural products and processed food and fisheries and livestock in the first phase. The third phase of the stakeholder consultations featuring 4 more sectors will be held on November 10. Read more: Post-LDC graduation challenges: Commerce ministry for public-private partnership for product diversification With BFTI Chief Executive Officer Md Zafar Uddin in the chair, the meeting was also addressed by Hafizur Rahman, director general and additional secretary of WTO Wing of the Commerce Ministry, president of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association Shamim Ahmed, President of Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners Association Abdur Razzak and representatives of different public and private sector organisations.
BGMEA seeks Netherlands' support for Bangladesh's smooth LDC graduation
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has sought the support of the Netherlands through the extension of the transition period for Bangladesh's smooth LDC graduation. BGMEA President Faruque Hassan met with Birgitta Tazelaar, deputy director general for international cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, in Dhaka Wednesday. Read: Bangladesh’s LDC graduation: Govt has its plan to face next challenges They also talked about potential areas of further collaboration between Bangladesh and the Netherlands – especially in the area of sustainability – for the development of the apparel industry. BGMEA Vice-President Shahidullah Azim; directors Barrister Shehrin Salam Oishee, Haroon Ar Rashid, Barrister Vidiya Amrit Khan, Neela Hosna Ara and Standing Committee on Foreign Mission Cell Chair Shams Mahmud were present at the meeting. Dutch Ambassador Anne Gerard van Leeuwen and Bas Blaauw, first secretary at the Netherlands mission in Dhaka, also joined it.
LDC Graduation: Bangladesh, Lao PDR, Nepal join UN-led exchange on smooth transition
Government officials and representatives from the private sector, academia, research institutes, and civil society from Bangladesh, Lao PDR, and Nepal, alongside the UN, have gathered in Bangkok, Thailand to attend a South-South Exchange on Preparing Smooth Transition Strategy (STS) for graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) category. The three-day event (August 23-25, 2022) is organised by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UNOHRLLS), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) together with the Offices of the UN Resident Coordinators (UNRCO) of Bangladesh, Lao PDR, and Nepal. The event is funded by UNDESA through its Sustainable Graduation Support Facility - iGRAD. This initiative is part of the on-going support by the UN Development System for Bangladesh, Lao PDR, and Nepal as the only three countries recommended by the UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP) for graduation during the ongoing global pandemic in February 2021. Read: UK to continue duty-free market access to Bangladesh after LDC graduation The Bangladesh delegation, led by Sharifa Khan, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance, comprises LDC focal points from the Ministries of Commerce, Industries, Finance, Environment, along with PMO, BIDA, and NBR. Representatives from civil society and local think-tanks are also participating. The delegation is accompanied by the representatives from the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, led by Gwyn Lewis, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh. Rabab Fatima, Under Secretary General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, lauded this collaboration between three graduating LDCs facilitated by UN agencies. She said, “The compounded impact of multiple crises – such as COVID-19, growing food and commodity prices and the climate emergency – put development progress in the Least Developed Countries at risk. We are coming together to provide a better coordinated United Nations support. Our aim is to lessen the burden on each government’s capacity and catalyse sustainable progress”. The head of Bangladesh delegation Sharifa Khan said: “The Government has taken a three-pronged approach to make graduation smooth and sustainable - ensuring the best utilization of the international support mechanisms(ISM) during the remaining preparatory period, adopting necessary policies, strategies, and measures to enhance productivity and remain competitive in the post-LDC regime, and advocating alongside other LDCs for extending the ISMs temporarily beyond graduation. ” Gwyn Lewis, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh emphasized the importance of LDC graduation as an opportunity for more inclusive policy regimes. She said, “STS is an opportunity for long-term thinking on issues of improved compliance with international standards in terms of labour rights, good governance, environment, and human rights.”
7 sub-committees formed to address challenges of LDC graduation
Some seven sub-committees are preparing draft strategies with a time-bound action plan to meet the challenges of Bangladesh's LDC graduation. According to an official document,Bangladesh will be facing some challenges, such as loss of duty free – quota free access, unilateral, preferential market access, reduced scope for concessional or low interest funding from international and bilateral development partners, preference erosion, and strict compliance with stringent standards. The government has formed a committee under the chairmanship of the Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare for the possible challenges that Bangladesh will face as a result of its graduation from a least developed country to a developing country. Also read: Bangladesh’s creditworthiness becomes high after graduation from LDC The document mentioned that there will be seven sub-committees under this committee. Each sub-committee has members from private sector stakeholders and development researchers. “These sub-committees are preparing draft strategies with a time-bound action plan to meet the challenges of LDC graduation,” it said. The document mentioned that the present government has adopted the policy of executing Bilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) in the context of potential trade challenges arising from LDC graduation. Read Tax corporates at par with region to face challenges of LDC graduation: DCCI Strategies for Preferential Market Access and Trade Agreement have been formulated as ways to address these challenges. In this context, Bangladesh has signed the Preferential Bilateral Trade Agreement (PTA) with Bhutan, under which 34 products of Bhutan will be duty-free in the market of Bangladesh and 100 products of Bangladesh will be duty-free in the market of Bhutan. In addition, a prioritization list for the execution of PTA/FTA/CEPA with 13 potential trading countries/trade organizations such as India, China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Nepal, USA, Canada, Eurasian Economic Union, ASEAN, and Mercosur has been prepared. Read EU assures continued trade benefits to Bangladesh after LDC graduation “A preliminary draft of the Regional Trade Agreement (RTA) Policy Guideline has been prepared with the aim of signing bilateral trade agreements with various countries,” the document said. In 2021, the United Nations made the final recommendation for the graduation of Bangladesh from the least developed country category for its progress in various socio-economic fields in recent years. LDC graduation is one of the important milestones that Bangladesh has achieved in its journey towards development. Read UK with Bangladesh in achieving smooth graduation: Dickson After graduation, Bangladesh’s participation in international trade and productivity in industrial production will rise to the next level fuelled by new-found zeal and confidence. The transition will improve the country’s credit rating, increase productive efficiency, and enhance our ability to compete globally, broadening our scope of export earnings. International financial institutions and credit rating agencies will evaluate Bangladesh more favourably after graduation. This will enhance our scope of attracting foreign funding both in the public and also in the private sector for investment and development financing purposes. Foreign direct investment will get a boost enabling new developments. Also read: Post-LDC Bangladesh: Pharmaceutical experts for amendment of Patent Act 2022 This will lead to massive development of infrastructure in the country, new job creation, and overall better living standards for the people of Bangladesh. As per the document, Bangladesh is pursuing hard at the WTO, along with other LDCs, to extend this exemption for some more years for the graduating countries. The loss of the LDC specific benefits will create an obligation for the country to increase its productive capacity and efficiency to compete in the export market, diversify our export basket and create new markets. Read BGMEA seeks UN support for smooth, sustainable LDC graduation Besides, this will both encourage and force the country to go for higher value added products. The document said that Bangladesh will have to utilise with farsightedness the period from 2022 to 2026 for our preparation to the graduation from Least Developed Countries so that Bangladesh can move forward even after graduation and sustain its position as a graduated country. To that end, it said, the ongoing development process must continue to ensure smooth graduation. “The Government of Bangladesh is fully committed to make this graduation smooth and sustainable. In this context, various policies, strategies, programs, and measures have been adopted.” Read Rebuilding Bangladesh: A resolute plan for resilient recovery According to the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDP) recommendation, Bangladesh's transition will be effective in 2026. It means until 2026, Bangladesh will be able to enjoy all these benefits applicable to LDCs. However, under the current rules, Bangladesh will be able to enjoy duty-free and quota-free market access for another three years, i.e. until 2029, into the EU market after completing its graduation in 2026. The UNCDP upon the request of the government has recommended that against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic, the preparation period for the transition will be five years instead of three. During this period, that is, until 2026, all international facilities will continue. Read Capacity building needed for sustaining growth, tackling trade-related challenges The LDC Group of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has put forward a proposal to ensure that all trade facilities pertaining to LDCs remain in force for another 12 years after transition. Bangladesh has actively participated in this process, and is continuing its efforts to get this proposal accepted. The document said that the government has already taken steps to avail the advantage of GSP+ in EU countries after the graduation. Read Life after LDC graduation: BGMEA steps up economic diplomacy Moreover, the government has taken effective steps to improve its ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index to increase the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI), although the index itself has been discontinued by the World Bank. The benefits of these steps are becoming evident, the document reads. The government is also in discussion with development partners, trade partners and relevant international organisations will continue to ensure that some important international facilities remain available even after the graduation. Read IMF keen to work closely for Bangladesh’s RMG sector’s development Training arrangements will be made for stakeholders to enhance their ability to deal with post-graduation situations. To develop human resources, steps will be taken to enhance efficiency as per the demand of the market at home and abroad. "Steps have been initiated to conduct sector-wise research activities on the opportunities created by Bangladesh's LDC graduation and what can be done to meet the challenges," the document reads. Read Plans afoot to transform Bangladesh’s economy in view of LDC graduation