The newly formed economic alliance is essentially an extension of the Asean treaty. Outside Asean, the new China-led alliance includes Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Asean countries are enjoying duty-free access to each other's market. Bangladesh is enjoying some benefits in these countries on the basis of LDC, AFTA and personal relationship. In the Chinese market, Bangladesh is already getting duty-free facility on 97% of the products. The Japanese and Korean markets also have offered duty-free access under the GSP facilities.
Bangladesh does not export products that much to the New Zealand market, a member of the new alliance. We also export very little to the Australian market. As a result, the risk of export decline due to the RCEP is very low.
On the other hand, Vietnam, our main competitor in the export market, is getting duty-free access to the United States under the TPP agreement. But the new agreement with China could pose a challenge to Vietnam in the US market. In that case, there may be an opportunity for Bangladesh to take additional advantage.
The RCEP agreement was signed on 15 November. We do not know what benefits this deal will bring to the member countries. Even government policymakers may not yet be fully aware of the issue. In order to continue expanding our export market, it is necessary to keep an eye on it.
If this agreement creates complications in the export of Bangladeshi goods to these countries, we will have to try to resolve those through bilateral relations. The government needs to quickly consider whether it is necessary to join the alliance after reviewing its advantages and disadvantages.
Siddiqur Rahman, Co-President, FBCCI; Former president, BGMEA gave his opinions to Abbas Uddin Noyon over the phone.