Speakers at a webinar organized by foreign ministry in Dhaka on Sunday observed that Bangladesh’s export volume can reach up to $1.2 billion from the present $60 million to ASEAN countries if technical and non-tariff barriers are addressed, reports BSS.
They noted that Bangladesh has high potential to enter the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market specially with its world standard pharmaceuticals products.
They also suggested organising single country product fairs frequently while Bangladeshi companies need to set up branches there.
Chaired by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, the webinar was attended by Bangladesh Ambassadors and High Commissioners posted to the South East Asian countries, different Chambers of Commerce having business interests with the ASEAN countries, representatives from various exporters’ associations and high officials of foreign and commerce ministries; and Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission.
Professor of economics department of Dhaka university Dr. Selim Raihan presented the keynote paper titled “Expanding Bangladesh’s Business Ties with the ASEAN Countries”.
In his opening remarks, the foreign secretary said historically and traditionally, Bangladesh has had very close commercial and cultural links to the South East Asian countries due to its geographic as well as strategic complementarities.
Ambassador Masud said that performance on the South East Asian front has to be much better to attain the Bangladesh government’s set goal of $60 billion export figure by the turn of the year.
In his keynote paper Dr. Selim Raihan pointed out that Bangladesh stands to gain significantly through integration with the South East Asian countries which will allow Dhaka to focus on export oriented manufacturing strategy and encourage export diversification.
Observing that presently Bangladesh’s exports to ASEAN countries are significantly low, he said, product diversification followed by market and need assessments in those countries will Bangladesh accelerate the desired integration process.
BGMEA President Dr. Rubana Huq said, by 2030, ASEAN as a bloc would be the 4th largest economy in the world and to enter that market Bangladesh should negotiate signing an FTA with a Rules of Origin clause favourable to the ASEAN.
While delivering the closing remarks, MCCI President Nihad Kabir supported the idea of a pro-active trade policy.
Additional Secretary (East) Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Mashfee Binte Shams suggested that the missions in the South East Asian countries should forge strategic partnership with prominent trade bodies and chambers in the host country to organize single country fair not only in the capital city but also in the most vibrant commercial cities.
The meeting decided that from now on regular consultations would take place between the Ministry and the chambers on trade and vestment facilitation issues.