The Ministry of Commerce on Sunday published a list of 8,256 Bangladeshi products that China recently exempted from tariffs.
The ministry published the list in English on its web portal on Sunday, three months after the world's second largest economy offered a zero tariff facility on 97% of items imported from Bangladesh.
The list is available at the following link – https://mincom.gov.bd/site/notices/90aa0371-9c9c-41db-9d66-df11bb56eb14/.
Bangladesh has 8,549 products in its basket. Among them, China offered duty-free and quota free access to 8,256 products – including ready-made garments, fish, agricultural products, and agro-processing products – on 16 June this year.
The zero tariff facility became effective from 1 July. At that time, the Tariff Commission of the State Council of China provided Bangladesh with a list of products getting duty free access, but that list was written in the Chinese language.
Later, the commerce ministry of Bangladesh, with support from the Bangladesh Embassy in China, translated the list of products into English.
On 24 June, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) sent letters to the commerce ministry to publish the list as soon as possible.
Responding to a query, Commerce Secretary Dr Md Jafar Uddin told The Business Standard, "China has provided duty-free facilities for all Bangladeshi products – except arms, alcohol, maize, and nuclear items – and this is a big opportunity.
"To take advantage of it, we are emphasising the importance of product diversification. If we take the right steps, our exports to China will significantly increase," he added.
ATM Azizul Akil, senior vice-president of the Bangladesh-China Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, "In order to increase exports by utilising this facility, we have to focus on diversification and improvement of product quality."
"Otherwise, Bangladesh will not be able to benefit from the duty-free facility on 97% of its products," he continued.
According to the Chinese embassy, Bangladesh exported goods worth over $1 billion to China in 2019. Of them, textiles, clothing and accessories accounted for $590 million or about 57% of the total exports to China.
Apparel exporters said they have the potential to export more as production costs in China have increased significantly because of a hike in the minimum wage to around $300 – which is one-third of that amount in Bangladesh.