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PM okays bonded warehouse for all $1b export industries


Dec 31, 2010
PM okays bonded warehouse for all $1b export industries


Sheikh Abdullah
20 March, 2023, 10:10 pm
Last modified: 20 March, 2023, 10:48 pm

All industrial sectors to get bonded warehouse facility in stages, said the prime minister
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. TBS Sketch.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. TBS Sketch.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. TBS Sketch.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed to allot bonded warehouse facilities to industries with more than $1 billion export value including leather, jute, plastic and light engineering industries on priority basis after the RMG sector.

The premier also said the same facility will be given to all industrial sectors in stages and instructed the national committee on export to prepare a plan with tentative time to extend the facility to sectors on the basis of export potentials.

Tapan Kanti Ghosh, senior secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, told The Business Standard that the prime minister also gave instructions for the expansion of the overall export trade in the meeting of the committee on export at Ganabhaban on Monday.

The commerce secretary made a presentation on the challenges and prospects of Bangladesh's export sector after transitioning from Least Developed Country (LDC) status in 2026 and to achieve the vision of $150 billion export by 2031 and double export earnings in the next decade.

Businessmen including representatives of various trade bodies have sought incentives and policy support from the prime minister while the premier advised them to find new markets.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also instructed to make policies to make business operations easier for women entrepreneurs and businessmen in the agricultural products processing sector.

"We need to add new products to increase exports. Although there are many products, not all can be taken to the international market," said Tapan Kanti Ghosh.

"Three alternative proposals have been given by the commerce ministry to increase export capacity. It has been proposed to provide bonded warehouse facilities to all companies, or to waive duty on import of raw materials and machinery. All the businessmen present supported these proposals," he added.

The commerce secretary said that the prime minister said bonded warehouse facilities will eventually be given to all but the most promising sectors will get priority.

"Currently the leather, jute, plastic and light engineering sectors are earning more than $1 billion in exports. Although the leather sector gets conditional bonded facilities, they need the facility in its entirety," said the commerce secretary.

He said the meeting also discussed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

"To make such an agreement, duty exemption should be given. Within 7 to 10 years, 98% of products from partner countries should be granted duty-free entry. Doing it suddenly can put pressure on revenue. Again, there is a fear of pressure on the local industries.

However, the prime minister asked to prepare for the FTA," Tapan Kanti Ghosh said.

However, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has said in order to grant duty exemptions to FTA partner countries, the existing tax exemptions must be withdrawn.

The commerce secretary said the meeting discussed subsidising production instead of subsidising exports after 2026. Businessmen demanded subsidies for man-made fibre, backward linkage industry, transport and research. Along with this, the businessmen have also raised the demand for ease of doing business.

At the same time, traders have also proposed more financing from the Export Development Fund (EDF). Besides, they proposed speeding up clearance of goods at ports, stopping fines and stopping audit of cash assistance. They also demanded the setting up of a Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in the tannery industry of Savar.

The commerce secretary said that the businessmen were informed in the meeting that the government has submitted an action plan to the European Union, International Labor Organization (ILO) on labour laws with proposals to eliminate child labour by 2025.

The tariff benefits that Bangladesh is set to lose following LDC graduation in 2026 could reduce the country's export earnings by about $7 billion, according to a Planning Commission study. In this situation, the commerce secretary mentioned in detail what should be done to achieve the huge export target.

Highlighting the potential to achieve the export target, he said, as a result of LDC graduation, positive branding of Bangladesh will take place and the business environment will be easier. In turn this will increase credit rating and draw more foreign investment.

"Although we want to diversify, opportunities for garments are now more than ever. China's market share is falling fast due to geopolitical factors and Bangladesh is set to gain from it. Vast potential exists in exporting more man-made fibre," said the commerce secretary.

Recommending bonded warehouse facilities for all sectors to achieve export targets after LDC graduation, the commerce ministry said, a time bound action plan should be taken for withdrawal of minimum import price (MIP), supplementary duty and regulatory duty.

The commerce ministry emphasised on rationalising the tariff policy for diversification of exports, formulating a tariff policy suitable for signing FTAs with countries, developing international quality testing and certification facilities and developing international negotiation skills.

The European Union, Bangladesh's main export market, is enacting a new GSP policy for the period 2024-33 which will come into effect from the beginning of next year.

The Ministry of Commerce informed the prime minister that engagement of high-level officials of the government is urgently needed to continue the existing Everything But Arms facility.

Besides, the commerce secretary has recommended that steps be taken at the highest level to ensure that Bangladesh continues to get duty-free facilities on all but 25 products in India after LDC graduation.

The Ministry of Commerce has given an opinion in favour of increasing engagement with Canada, Japan, South Korea and China as well as increasing political engagement with Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Mercosur region to increase duty-free export facilities.

The ministry told the prime minister that to achieve the export target after LDC graduation, importance should be given to improving the labour situation.

Bangladesh has prepared a roadmap for the period of 2026 to implement the action plan given by the EU to improve the labour standards, which is to be implemented and the labour law of Bangladesh to be amended to the standards of the ILO, the commerce secretary said.

He emphasised on improving working conditions in the garment and non-RMG sectors, eliminating child labour by 2025 and using environment friendly technology in factories.


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