The Bangladesh-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised at a webinar on "LDC Graduation of Bangladesh: Are We Ready for GSP+?" on Wednesday
We have to work and move forward together from individual places to improve the overall capability of the economy of Bangladesh otherwise we will be in a difficult situation in five years after graduating from LDC to a developing country.
We also have to think of the implementation of the 27th International Convention which is the Minimum Age of Employment and be an active partner of regional and sub-regional initiatives, said Omar Sadat, the president of the Bangladesh-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI), at a webinar on "LDC Graduation of Bangladesh: Are We Ready for GSP+?" on Wednesday.
Reputed personalities experts concerned both in Bangladesh and Germany have actively participated in the webinar organised by the BGCCI and recommended transition strategies required for GSP+.
BGCCI President also said that our future endeavour should be to bring freedom and opportunity for the common man, to fight and end poverty, to build a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and women.
Keynote speaker Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya stated that to be eligible for GSP+ few criteria need to fulfil.
The first one is vulnerability criteria, under which Bangladesh is eligible, it accounts for more than 75% GSP covered imports whereas Bangladesh covers 96%.
The second is import share criteria which says one country should not be exporting more than 7.4% of the total imports into the EU, for Bangladesh the comparable figure is 26%. This is one area where Bangladesh have to work further to resolve the issue and it is possible to resolve it.
The third criterion is whether we will be able to do double transformation and be eligible for the tariff preference.
Apart from the technical part, the other important criteria for achieving GSP+ are sustainability and good governance.
Mentioning the EU as Bangladesh's largest export destination accounting for more than 61% of total exports, Guest of Honour Ambassador of Bangladesh to Germany Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the continuation of tariff preference after LDC graduation is very essential especially in the EU market for our export growth.
He also mentioned Vietnam signing FTA with the EU and suggested Bangladesh start discussing both GSP+ and FTA with the EU.
He recommended signing and implementing FTAs with several countries while expressing dissatisfaction as the commerce ministry had signed just one FTA in the last 18 years.
As the lead panellist, Policy Research Institute Executive Director Dr Ahsan H Mansur said compliance with labour and environment issues is needed to secure GSP plus in the EU.
Stating that one of our biggest problems is capacity development in negotiation at the ministry, he stressed the capacity development of the ministries and other agencies to hold negotiations for securing benefits and signing FTA.
He also stated that persuasive diplomatic initiatives along with substantive changes in some global conventions will be other important areas for securing the GSP plus scheme.
He also mentioned that we are not part of any trade block that matters.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association's newly elected President Faruque Hassan said 61% of readymade garment exports to the EU market would come under new tariffs after the LDC graduation.
He recommended formulating a mid-term strategy to maintain competitiveness and stressed upon strategy, capacity building, and diplomatic engagement with the EU to seek an extension of the Everything but Arms (EBA) deal for 10 more years on grounds of exports and employment.
Md Fazlul Hoque, former president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, stated that we need mainly to focus on keeping the single transformation status valid as long as possible.
He said considering from the perspectives we should make all-out efforts to secure GSP plus and extend the EBA agreement and suggested that the Government should take a lead with the support of the think tanks and the business leaders from the apparel sector.
Md Hafizur Rahman, director general of World Trade Organisation Cell under the Commerce Ministry informed the webinar that the ministry has already organised consensus from the LDC group and submitted three proposals to the WTO.
The proposals are extending all the special and differential treatment under the WTO Law for 12 years after the LDC graduation and extension of transition period till the country remains in the LDC category.
The final proposal that after graduation if GNA per capita does not go above $1000 at 1990 base year the country can be included in the category that can provide the export subsidy.
Walton Managing Director Golam Murshed said Bangladesh exports more than half of its electronics to Europe. The electronics sector is a prominent part of the GSP plus discussion agenda and it has vast potential to export in Europe.