Business leaders and economic analysts Thursday urged the government to amend existing policies and regulations to arrest digital trade potentials which came to light during the Covid-19 pandemic.
From a webinar titled "Digital Trade in Global Perspective", they also called for developing infrastructures where everyone including small and medium entrepreneurs will also be able to take full advantages.
Referring to a study on Japanese economy, trade and industry, Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) Bangladesh Country Director Yuji Ando said the global cross-border e-commerce business is enjoying annual 27% growth, which is projected to $912.3 billion in 2020 and $4,856.1 billion in 2027.
At the programme hosted by online B2B trading platform Merchant Bay marking a week-long digital trade event, Yuji Ando said, "We can easily assume the potentials of digital trade. However, it is important for both the buyers and suppliers to have trust and transparency in this case."
In addition, small and medium entrepreneurs should be brought under the digital channels under private-public partnership and emphasis should be laid on infrastructural development so that everyone can take full advantage of this opportunity and leverage the B2B [Business-to-Business] platform, he added.
He commented that a country's private sector often foresees the future trade potentials than the existing policymakers. Therefore, there should always be a public-private arrangement on policy adjustments.
BGMEA President Dr Rubana Huq said, "If you ask me where are now standing at, I would say we stand at the sub-zero level. It is very important to understand the entire scenario and policy imperilment."
Specific laws, policy system and regulations have made our entry to the market difficult, she added.
The BGMEA head said, "There is no doubt that the e-consumerism is on the rise. We need to see how we actually are connected with digital currency," she added.
"In this regard, we must know Bangladesh government has put a stress on the digital platform, but distributing and retailing can be a big problem."
Talking about further challenges of digital trading, she said there will questions over order quality, frequency and lead time.
"Digital trading is okay at business-to-business level but we need to go to business-to-consumer level too," she suggested.
"Also, we need to identify collectively the discrepancies between factories who want to do business through the virtual marketplace and who do not."
Stating that digital trading is all about trust, she said there is no alternative to digital consumers, e-platform and e-trading for e-commerce.
"The question is how quickly we get ready for it, she added.
There should be an inter-ministerial discussion on what it requires for digital platform. The public-private partnership is also important.
World Trade Organisation Trade Policy Analyst Mena Hassan said, "We all know that the digital economy has become the centre of our economy."
Infrastructure development through local and international collaboration will provide facilities to many people from all around the world to get access to digital economy.
Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) has some unique facilities for developing countries like Bangladesh because TFA is crucial for Bangladesh. Since 2016, Bangladesh has been implementing one-third of the 36 measurements, she added.
Chairman of the Policy Exchange of Bangladesh Masrur Reaz said, "Digital trade has become important not only because of the Covid situation but also before the state of emergency."
The cost of non-digital trade in Bangladesh is quite high, he added.
Bangladesh has more reasons to bring digital trade. However, the rules are not modern enough for digital trade, which requires digital literacy, said Masrur.