Published in Dhaka Tribune on Thursday, 27 August 2015.

Exports to SAARC see 16% rise in FY15

Ibrahim Hossain Ovi

Exports to SAARC regions stood at $648.68m in FY2014-15, which was 15.75% higher compared $560.38m in the previous fiscal year

Snapping a three-year downtrend, Bangladesh’s exports to SAARC countries have registered a sharp rise by 15.75% to $648.68m, riding on the Indian export earnings in the last financial year.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, Bangladesh’s exports to SAARC regions stood at $648.68m in FY2014-15, which was 15.75% higher compared $560.38m in the previous fiscal year.

In FY2013-14, Bangladesh’s export to the regions marked an 18.74% decline to $560.38m compared to $689.68m in FY2012-13.

“In the Indian markets, especially in those of seven sisters, there is a huge demand for Bangladeshi products including plastic and garment items,” Jasim Uddin, president of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association told the Dhaka Tribune.

Due to lack of proper initiatives, Bangladesh fails to enlarge its export basket, Jasim said, adding that to grab the market, the government has to remove non-tariff barriers hampering trade, he added.

Bangladesh has an ample export opportunity among the SAARC countries to boost its trade and meet the $50bn export target by 2021, Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) President Abdus Salam Murshedy told the Dhaka Tribune.

To avail the opportunity, Bangladesh has to concentrate on building relationship with its counterparts and confidence to strengthen connectivity, said Salam.

Bangladesh has to focus on non-tariff barriers, development of port facilities, diversification of export items and other infrastructural facilities necessary to transport goods smoothly.

“The introduction of Schengen Visa to SAARC countries can help boost trade and commerce,” BGMEA Vice-President Shahidullah Azim told the Dhaka Tribune.

Frequent movement and connectivity are key to negotiate trade deals, Azim said, calling for easy visa process and reduction of transportation cost through development of connectivity.

India, which is the largest export destination of Bangladeshi products among the SAARC countries, can play a significant role in enhancing the regional trade as big economic power in the subcontinent, said Azim.

In the last fiscal year, Bangladesh’s exports to Indian market have risen by 15.45% to $527m, which was $457m in the previous fiscal year.

RMG export to the neighbouring country also increased by 8.31% to $104.25m in the year compared to $96.25m in the previous year.

Bangladesh earned $57.57m from Pakistan, $25m from Nepal, $5.64m from Maldives, $23.92m from Sri Lanka, $4.92m from Bhutan and $4.30m from Afghanistan, exporting goods including clothing products in the last fiscal year.

“Proper and quick implementation of the Motor Vehicle Agreement that Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal signed have signed can play an important role in boosting trade among the countries as it will enhance connectivity,” Khondaker Golam Moazzem, additional research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue, told the Dhaka Tribune.

India has already accepted the standard of 25 Bangladeshi products, and the number should be much more, he said.

He urged both the governments to remove non-tariff barriers, including certification, quality control and inter-providence taxes, which prevent duty-free market access to India, he added.

The government has stressed initiatives to enhance regional trade earnings in order to reduce trade deficit among the neighboring countries.




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