Previously, Bangladesh's national budget used to be largely dependent on loans and grants from donors. But, the country is providing the bulk of the budget from its own resources.
A big change has already taken place in the country. In the wake of the changes in the overall economic situation, including per capita GDP or the size of the GDP, the country should adopt cautious moves in graduating from the LDC status.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, we had a clear-cut stance on the LDC graduation. But, the pandemic has developed a new environment. Therefore, it is necessary to observe the situation closely and analyse it thoroughly and then make careful decisions.
The GSP facility that Bangladesh is enjoying as an LDC in the field of export, including readymade garments, will not be available to anyone for a long time. It is not supposed to remain so either.
Therefore, we have to be competitive so that we can compete in the world market without having the GSP facility. We also need to increase the number of products in our export basket and explore new markets.
In addition to the conventional markets, potential markets, including Brazil, South Africa, China, and India, should be tapped by analysing the product demand in those countries.
We should also start working to increase the efficiency of workers and their productivity rate in order to achieve competitiveness. For this, there must be policy support from the government.
Bangladesh is not getting a GSP facility in its major export market, the United States. If FTA is signed with them, exports will increase. The government needs to take steps to retain the preferential trade facility in the UK as well. The Ministry of Commerce has continued its efforts in this regard.
After becoming a developing country, the government should continue its efforts to get GSP Plus or Standard GSP benefits in the European Union. If necessary, measures should be taken to sign FTA with those countries just as Vietnam has done. The commerce ministry is preparing to sign FTA with Japan to retain duty-free facilities.
I think the garment industry – Bangladesh's main export sector – will be able to meet the challenges of the LDC graduation. This industry has become competitive. There was an apprehension when the quota system was abolished, but the ready-made garment sector has proved itself in its ability to successfully deal with it.
The author is former president of FBCCI and BGMEA