Bangladesh has a reason to be concerned enough as Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia have signed the world's largest free trade deal led by China. The agreement may provide developing countries Vietnam and Indonesia with an opportunity to export duty-free ready-made garments to Japan and China, which are Bangladesh's largest market in Asia. It may cause harm to Bangladesh.
Vietnam will boost its ready-made garment export to Japan if they get duty-free access there. Thanks to Vietnam's infrastructural facilities, they will be able to supply apparel items in less time, which may be a cause for concern for Bangladesh. Indonesia and Cambodia are also major exporters of ready-made garments.
There are also concerns as the Democrats have won the United States presidential election. Because, the new president may bring the US back into the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement which includes Vietnam – a rival of Bangladesh in terms of readymade garments export.
Now, Bangladesh should get included in such multilateral trade agreements too. And if that is not possible, the country should take initiatives to sign a free-trade agreement to ensure duty-free access to potential markets among the treaty countries.
The RECP signing countries will provide duty-free access to all goods of each other for the next 20 years. The impact on Bangladesh can be easily understood by analysing which products the countries will give duty-free benefits to each other now or in the next few years.
However, the main reason for Bangladesh's concern is that the number of products in our export basket is very limited. We export 8-10 products, and 90% of the total export revenue comes from 2-3 products. About 76% of Bangladesh's export earnings come from the garment sector alone.
Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin gave his opinions to Abul Kashem over the phone.