Webinar on "LDC Graduation by 2024 and readiness of Bangladesh"

Webinar on
International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) jointly organized a webinar on "LDC Graduation by 2024 and readiness of Bangladesh" on Saturday, 10 October, 2020 via ZOOM virtual conference. 

Mr. Salman Fazlur Rahman, MP, Hon’ble Adviser to Prime Minister on Private Industry and Investment & Chairman of the Board of Governors of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) graced the webinar as Chief Guest. Mr. Md. Hafizur Rahman, Director General (Additional Secretary), WTO Cell, Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was present as Special Guest.

The Keynote Paper Presenter presented by Dr. M. A. Razzaque, Research Director, The Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI).

Mr. M.S. Siddiqui, Legal Economist & Vice President, International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB), Mr. Md. Fazlul Hoque, Former President, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Syed Nasim Manzur, Former President, the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI), Mr. Anwar-Ul Alam Chowdhury Parvez, President, Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) & Former President, The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Dr. Monzur Hossain, Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) spoke as Designated Discussants.

Ambassador M Humayun Kabir, Acting President, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) welcomed everyone by his welcome remarks and Mr. Farooq Sobhan, Distinguished Fellow, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) was the Moderator of the webinar.

Mr. Humayun Rashid, President, International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) & Managing Director & CEO, Energypac Power Generation Ltd. was the Chairperson of the webinar.

In the opening speech Ambassador M Humayun Kabir welcomed everyone present in the meeting and said that we need more study and research to build the capacity of the private sector and govt. officials to negotiate for free trade agreement (FTA). IBFB and BEI are working in this sector and we need more research on overseas market and also support the private sector to enhance the skill of negotiation for better price.

The Keynote Paper Presenter Dr. M. A. Razzaque recommended that in order to face the challenges of LDC Graduation he suggested for free trade agreement (FTA). He further suggested:

  • Consider those FTAs only where export market access is critical.
  • Strategies to negotiate with the EU, UK, U.S., India and China can be quite different.
  • Bangladesh needs setting up Chief Trade Representative/Negotiator’s office to develop and manage trade negotiation stances
  • Retaining duty-free access in the Indian and Chinese markets should be an important priority.
  • FTA and CEPA option with India is not the best possible option. Consider taking advantage of SAFTA Article 12.
  • Dependence on government revenue from trade means FTA negotiations with a major partner country may not be possible.
  • Developing a post-graduation export incentive regime that will be consistent with WTO rules.
  • Improving export competitiveness through other means (can we find out ways of lower cost by 10% - comparable to loss of tariff margins?).
    • Improvements in cost of doing business
    • Better exchange rate management
    • Efficiency gains through better inland transportation and port management

Mr. Md. Fazlul Hoque, Former President, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) told that Bangladeshi exporter’s negotiation skill is weak, even we have green industries in our country, we are unable to negotiate better price. We need to build better skill to negotiate.

Mr. Anwar-Ul Alam Chowdhury Parvez, President, Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) & Former President, The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said that we have less technical skill, education system should be improved, only private sector can’t change the system, government should take necessary steps to change the education system.

Syed Nasim Manzur, Former President, the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI) told that our income and other TAX is very high, government should take necessary steps to reduce the tariff rate.

Dr. Monzur Hossain, Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) told that if we graduate the local industries will face more competition from manufacturer of other countries; we should build internal and external capacity.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) said that we should negotiate from now for the facility to continue and also prepare ourselves for free trade agreement.

Mr. M.S. Siddiqui, Legal Economist & Vice President, International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) said in his speech that custom duty on basic raw materials should be zero instead of current rate of 10%. In order to reduce cost of doing business we must allow 100% FDI in logistic factors, which is now restricted by honorable High Court. We this all reforms to reduce cost of our products without reducing any revenue collection of NBR.

Mr. Md. Hafizur Rahman, Director General (Additional Secretary), WTO Cell, Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh said that our exporters faces problems like anti dump ting duties and quantity restrictions. We are trying to enhance our capacity to face these challenges.

Mr. Salman Fazlur Rahman, MP, Hon’ble Adviser to Prime Minister on Private Industry and Investment, said in the webinar that higher authority of the government is considering for free trade agreement (FTA). Bangladesh has lacking for country branding, we should go for massive publicity through global media, he proposed to create a fund of $ 400 million for global publicity. He asked the private sector to contribute in the fund.

Mr. Humayun Rashid, President, International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) thanked the Chief Guest, Special Guest, Key Note Presenter, the Distinguished Discussant and the representatives from media for giving time slot for the webinar despite of busy schedule. He also thanked BEI for helping organizing such a webinar.

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