Bangladesh's graduation from the least developed countries (LDC) to the class of developing countries presents more prospects than challenges, said Md Jashim Uddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
"There are a few challenges, of course, but the potential is certainly not any less," said the country's top apex body chief during a press brief on Thursday at the FBCCI office in the capital.
"We must take the challenges as opportunities and focus on expanding our capabilities, diversifying exports," he told the press conference, organised to shed light on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's recent trip to the United Kingdom and France.
Jashim Uddin, who was part of the premier's trade delegation, said he thinks exports will still grow after the preferential market access (GSP – Generalised System of Preferences) ends following the LDC graduation.
He also recommended securing free trade agreements (FTA) to sustain growth of businesses.
Explaining further, he said, "Many people think businesses will decline when the GSP facility ends, but in reality, it will not be the case. We do not have a GSP facility in the US market, yet export growth was over 23% last year."
Jashim Uddin, who is also the Vice Chairman of Bengal Group, said he sees no reason why exports to the markets of Europe will not grow without GSP as it did for the US.
"GSP facility is available for the Europe markets and we will perhaps continue to avail the facility until 2031. Our exports to the US market are second highest and we did well there without GSP. Similarly, there is no reason for our exports to not grow further in the Europe market," he said adding, "To further increase exports we have to expand to other sectors. We have to bring in new products and improve our capabilities."
Speaking about untapped potentials, Jashim Uddin said, "Bangladesh exports $30-35 billion worth of garments but we are importing some fabrics (woven). We can produce this fabric in Bangladesh. The government is establishing 101 special economic zones. There are opportunities to invest in fabric production."
The FBCCI president also recommended that we should expand our exports of value-added items.
"Bangladesh is the second-largest exporter, which is 6% of the total world export. China is exporting the highest – 36%. Clearly there are opportunities to increase participation in the export market," said Jashim Uddin.
"If the private sector and the government can work together, there will be no problem for Bangladesh to become a high-income country by 2031 and a developed country by 2041," he added.