A call to implement trade facilitation policies to reap the benefits

Experts have urged Bangladesh to properly implement trade facilitation policies and procedures to reap the benefits of transitioning from a less developed country. On Wednesday, September 14th, concerned experts made this call during a workshop organized in the NEC conference room in the capital. In this regard, they emphasized the simplification of business and trade procedures and the necessary coordination between related organizations.

Support to the Sustainable Graduation Project (SSGP) of the Economic Relations Department (ERD) and the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) organized the workshop ‘Augmenting Competitiveness by Improving Trade Facilitation.

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was the main guest at the workshop chaired by ERD Secretary Sharifa Khan. The secretary of the Ministry of Shipping was present as a special guest. Mustafa Kamal and MCCI President Saiful Islam. At the time, the trade minister said that in order to prepare for the transition from a less developed country, Bangladesh must implement all policies and procedures related to trade facilitation.

Experts say trade facilitation plays an important role in boosting a country’s overall commercial activities. Trade facilitation requires the necessary modernization and harmonization of trade-related rules, policies and procedures. Trade facilitation helps to achieve business efficiency and competitiveness and reduce the time and cost of doing business.

The stakeholders believe that it is essential to implement all possible trade facilitation policies to eliminate any negative impact on Bangladesh’s exports and to increase the country’s overall competitiveness in international trade, in the context of a gradual increase in the benefits of duty-free quota-free exports after the transition from a less developed country.

A Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) was approved at the 2013 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting to boost global trade, which came into effect in 2017. Bangladesh signed the agreement on September 6, 2016, and is currently working on its implementation. There is scope for a phased implementation of the TFA agreement for the least developed countries. After the transition, however, this benefit decreases slightly.

The workshop was organized to discuss and evaluate the role that trade facilitation mechanisms can play in mitigating the potential negative impacts in the context of gradually increasing the benefits of duty-free, quota-free exports after Bangladesh’s transition from a less developed country.

At the same time, the workshop shed light on the areas of necessary reforms in legal, administrative, and technical matters related to trade facilitation. In the workshop, ERD Secretary Sharifa Khan emphasized simplifying and coordinating the various rules and procedures related to trade.

Secretary of the Ministry of Shipping. Mustafa Kamal emphasized the implementation of port and logistics development activities in a more integrated and well-organized manner. MCCI President Saiful Islam emphasized increasing the efficiency of the country’s ports. In this regard, he urged the involvement of renowned international organizations in the management and operation of the ports.

The speakers emphasized reducing the cost of doing business in the country and reducing the procedural time spent doing business in order to increase competitiveness. Senior customs specialists from ‘Feed the Future Bangladesh Trade Activity’ funded by USAID discussed the main content of the workshop. Raich Uddin Khan.

The additional secretary of the Finance Department took part in the panel discussion of the workshop. MD. Khayeruzzaman Majumdar, Member of the National Board of Revenue. Abdul Mannan Shikder, Director of Garment Industry Owners Association BGME Asif Ashraf, and Chairman of Policy Exchange of Bangladesh Dr. M. Masroor Riaz. Farid Aziz, Additional Secretary of ERD and Project Director of SSGP, welcomed the workshop. Involved representatives of government and industry and representatives of various research institutes took part in the workshop.

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