Former Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed warned against being excessively dependent on ready-made garments for export earnings, and cited the case of Venezuela as an example of what happens when a country depends too much on a single export item.
The veteran Awami League leader, speaking at the CIP (export) and Export (trade) Award 2017 at a city hotel on Wednesday, emphasised diversifying products for export earnings.
He went on to describe how Venezuela is now inching towards a famine because of its heavy dependence on oil export.
He said: "The GDP growth of Venezuela was 5.63 even in 2012, with 20 percent living under the poverty level. The country has become impoverished just after seven years."
Their income was mainly hooked on a single sector. Venezuela was the second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia.
Shedding light on the crisis, Tofail said Venezuela fell into serious trouble after the Arab Spring when oil price hit a record low. The country began experiencing several other issues, too.
"From then, inflation has gone to an 80,000 percent high. It will cross one lakh soon.
Venezuela had 84 percent export earning from oil, and this blessing later turned into a curse, and is leading the country towards a famine," commented Tofail Ahmed, adding that export dependency on a single product is to blame.
The member of the parliamentary standing committee on commerce noted that Bangladesh is also largely reliant on apparel export — nearly 84 percent of the total export.
Former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez poured billions of dollars of Venezuela's oil wealth into social programmes.
But the government of his successor, Nicolas Maduro, has had to struggle with plummeting oil prices, and an economic and political crisis that has left Venezuela in a state of near-collapse.
Elaborating on the crisis, Tofail Ahmed explicitly advocated for market expansion and for diversifying the existing basket of commodities.
A total of 136 commercially important people were recognised for their contribution to export. As many as 68 businessmen, nearly half of the total, are from the ready-made garments and textile sector.
Moreover, many of the FBCCI directors who were awarded CIP status are garment entrepreneurs.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, secretary of the commerce ministry Md Jafar Uddin and Exporters Association of Bangladesh President Abdus Salam Murshedy also stressed the need for export diversification.