Speakers discussed various aspects of Bangladesh trade scenarios at a workshop on “Emerging Trade Scenarios: Implications for Bangladesh” in the capital on Saturday.
The workshop, divided into three sessions, was organised by SANEM (South Asian Network on Economic Modeling) International Trade Centre.
Speaking over US-China trade war’s impact on Bangladesh, Dr Selim Raihan, professor of Dhaka University, said the trade war is not only affecting these two countries but the entire global trade as well.
Dr Selim said “The World Trade Organisation (WTO) offered developing countries like Bangladesh with some special treatments, which are being violated in the scenario of the current global trade war. These violations can be harmful to these countries.”
Dr Selim said the United States tends to substitute Chinese products, from which Bangladesh RMG sector can gain partially. But the global growth will decrease as a consequence of the shrinking consumer demands. That will have severe negative impacts on Bangladesh’s trade.
Dr Selim discussed China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) in the eye with Bangladesh’s role. He said the initiative could create a debt crisis for countries like Bangladesh for their existing institutional problems. The debt trap needs to be taken into account in the future.
Later, Dr Zaidi Sattar, Chairman of Policy Research Institute spoke over “Trade Policies of Bangladesh,” saying “Outside the RMG sector, our trade policy is a mess. It lacks direction.”
“Vat is not supposed to be a supplementary duty tax, rather a trade neutral duty, with 50% on the domestic products and 50% on the foreign products,” said Dr Zaidi.
Dr Zaidi also said “We have some sort of anti-export policies in case of trade and we create tariff barriers with fewer incentives for exports. Consumers have to pay higher prices comparing to international prices in other countries, taking a heavy toll on the middle class.”
Md Munir Chowdhury, director general of WTO Cell under Bangladesh Commerce Ministry, discuss over “LDC Graduation and Challenges for Bangladesh.”
“The graduation to Middle Income Country will attract a lot of foreign investments, but there are challenges too. It will reduce benefits and credit-worthiness of the country after the LDC graduation,” said Md Munir.
All three sessions were followed by interactive question-answer sessions. The workshop finally came to an end with the distribution of certificates to the participants.