Connect with us

Business

Bangladesh Govt mulls FTAs with China, India to face post-LDC challenges

Published

on

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The government is considering free trade agreements (FTAs) with China and India as part of its endeavour to strengthen ties with major trading partners to face post-LDC graduation challenges.

According to sources at the commerce ministry, China has already expressed its interest to sign a FTA with Bangladesh. On the other hand, the government has moved forward on a feasibility study for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) with neighbouring India.

The Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) is conducting the feasibility study.

Given the large disproportionality in trade, signing FTAs with these two top import sources, however, will cause the government to lose a huge amount of tariff revenue and may affect the growth of local industries by exposing them to stiff competition with foreign companies. – which is also being considered by the government.

Advertisement

According to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), the country’s tariff revenue from imported goods was Tk77,150 crore in the 2020-21 fiscal year and the lion’s share of it came from goods imported from China and India. If Bangladesh goes into FTAs with these two countries, it will have to lose a huge amount of revenue.

In view of this, a section of economists recommend that the government first sign FTAs with countries with which Bangladesh has a positive trade balance.

Nonetheless, the government is considering FTAs as a tool to maintain the competitiveness in the export market in the long run.

According to sources, the Ministry of Commerce has prepared a list of countries and trade blocs – with which Bangladesh may sign FTAs – based on its own analysis and opinions of various departments concerned.

On 9 September this year, a meeting of the Sub-Committee on Preferential Market Access and Trade Agreement – one of the several sub-committees formed by the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare for the possible post-LDC graduation challenges – discussed the list, that include Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Asean, Canada, the United States, the Eurasian Economic Union, and Mercosur, a South American trade bloc – apart from India and China.

Advertisement

Russia has also proposed to Bangladesh to sign a protocol on trade cooperation, which is currently being reviewed by the commerce ministry.

Md Hafizur Rahman, director general (DG) of the WTO Cell of the commerce ministry, told The Business Standard that Bangladesh has to sign FTAs with its trading partners in the interest of retaining market access after its graduation from the LDC status.

Mentioning that feasibility studies are being done on Cepa with India and FTA with China, he said whether the agreements will benefit Bangladesh will be understood once the studies are over.

Thrust on FTAs for future market access

Bangladesh will lose duty-free access to various export destinations, including Europe, once it comes out of the LDC status. Besides, obtaining tariff benefits under the GSP Plus scheme in the European market is also uncertain as the country is required to comply with 27 international conventions to qualify for the facility.

Advertisement

To face this challenge, the government has been showing an urgency to sign FTAs with its major trading partners ​​for the last few years. Businesses also have been demanding such agreements for a long time. Besides, economists have long been advocating FTAs.

Apart from considering FTAs, the government is making efforts to make sure preferential market access can be availed for extended times, sources at the commerce ministry said, adding the Ministry of Labor is in the process of amending labour laws in accordance with the guidelines of the European Union and the International Labour Organisation to this end.

This issue also came up for discussion at the meeting of the Sub-Committee on Preferential Market Access and Trade Agreement, the sources added.

The need for policy reform

In order to protect local industries or discourage the import of certain goods, Bangladesh levies supplementary duties, regulatory duties and other duties in addition to import duties.

Advertisement

WTO guidelines, however, urge gradual reduction in the tariff rates.

But, the last few years have not seen significant progress in this respect. As a result, no specific plan is evident as to how the NBR will cope with the revenue losses, if FTAs are signed with countries like China and India abruptly.

Syed Golam Kibria, member of the NBR, told TBS, “We have to move for FTAs in the long run but this requires preparation. In order to avoid the shock of a sudden drop in revenue, tariff rates will have to be reduced gradually within 2026. The revenue loss will have to be met by increasing the collection of income tax and VAT.”

On the other hand, economists are emphasising policy reform before signing FTAs.

International trade analyst Dr Mostafa Abid Khan told TBS that once Bangladesh becomes a developing country, it will no longer get unilateral benefits.

Advertisement

After its LDC-graduation, Bangladesh will have to offer some benefit to a country if it wants some benefit from that country, he mentioned, adding, “But the kind of trade- or investment-friendly policy needed for overall success of FTAs has not yet been framed.”

Stressing the need for enriching the country’s export basket, he said whether signing FTAs hurriedly will be beneficial for Bangladesh is questionable as it has a limited number of export items.

Expressing similar views, Abul Kasem Khan, former president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and incumbent chairman of the Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD), said, “We need to reform existing policies. It is necessary to make sure policies framed to implement FTAs do not hamper trade and commerce.

According to the Bangladesh Bank and the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh exported $38.75 billion worth of goods to the world market in FY21, which was 15.10% higher compared to a year ago. On the other hand the country’s imports in FY21 stood at $65.59 billion, marking a 19.93% year-on-year growth.

Bangladesh imported $11.53 billion worth of goods from China in FY20, while its exports to the Chinese market that year amounted to merely $600 million.

Advertisement

At the same time, the country’s imports from India stood at $8.2 billion and exports to the country amounted to $1.26 billion in FY20.

The most influential and award-winning tech journalist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. President of Bangladesh Tech Journalists umbrella association name Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum(BIJF).He works for The Daily Ittefaq and is responsible for covering news, editing posts, reviewing devices, producing video reviews, and communicating with the reader base. Journalist, editor, technology, personal technology, reviews, features, analysis, media.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

Anwar Group of Industries Organized ‘Induction of Leadership’ program

Published

on

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Anwar Group of Industries, a leading Bangladeshi conglomerate, celebrated a momentous occasion with the formal induction of its new leadership team.

In a ceremony held at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Mr. Manwar Hossain, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, officially announced Mr. Hossain Mehmood as Vice Chairman and Mr. Hossain Khaled as the Group Managing Director of Anwar Group of Industries. Additionally, Mr. Furkaan N Hossain, Mr. Waeez R Hossain, and Ms. Faizah Mehmood were sworn in as Deputy Managing Director of Anwar Group of Industries.

The “Induction of Leadership” ceremony on March 3, 2024, marked a memorable and new chapter for Anwar Group of Industries. At the ceremony, Mr. Manwar Hossain, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, presented the group’s brooches to Mr. Hossain Mehmood, Mr. Hossain Khaled, Mr. Furkaan N Hossain, Mr. Waeez R Hossain, and Ms. Faizah Mehmood. The ceremony was also attended by members of the Anwar family, stakeholders, and employees.

Committed to empowering its employees and creating a shared vision for the future, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, Mr. Manwar Hossain announced a groundbreaking move, all future employees will be made shareholders. This bold initiative underscores the group’s belief in the value of its employees and its commitment to building a sustainable and inclusive future.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Business

Shark Tank Bangladesh: Meet the Sharks!

Published

on

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The global phenomenon show “Shark Tank” is finally coming to Bangladesh as Shark Tank Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s top OTT platform, Bongo, signed a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to bring the world’s number-one business show to Bangladesh.

“Shark Tank” allows entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea to a panel of investors, known as “Sharks”, who can offer the entrepreneurs cash for a deal if they like the opportunity. Whether it is a prototype of a new product, an existing product or service, or a company looking for a financial injection to grow, the entrepreneurs have to convince the five “Sharks” to invest in their idea and help turn their life’s work into a household name.

Since launching in 2001 as “Money Tigers” on Nippon TV in Japan, the format has become a phenomenal worldwide success. It is produced in territories on every continent under a variety of names including “Dragon’s Den”, “Lion’s Den,” and of course “Shark Tank.” The format has seen Dragons, Lions, and Sharks, all hugely successful entrepreneurs themselves, invest nearly $1 billion through all versions of the franchise across the globe, enabling dozens of companies to grow significantly. Entrepreneurs who have been onboarded into the “Shark” ecosystem have seen massive growth and generated billions of dollars in sales after receiving deals and being featured on the show.

Shooting for the much-anticipated show is scheduled to kick off on February 12th, after having screened more than 2,000 companies to select the best businesses. Producers from Sony, Arch Dyson, and Kevin Hyland, who have helped supervise and produce versions of the show around the world, will be present in Dhaka to unveil the Sharks and oversee the first few days of the shoot.

Advertisement

After a long wait, the panel of Bangladeshi Sharks is ready to be unveiled. The investors, aka Sharks, are all business leaders in their own right and are excited to hear the pitches from the innovative Bengali entrepreneurs.

Robi is the “Title Sponsor,” Startup Bangladesh is the “Powered By Sponsor,” Tally is the “Co-Sponsor”, Prime Bank is the “Banking Partner,” Olympic Foodie Instant Noodles is the “Snacks Partner,” Sunquick is the “Beverage Partner,” Yellow by Beximco is the “Wardrobe Partner”,  Kloth Studio is the “Style Partner”, Holiday Inn is the “Hospitality Partner”, Inn Star is the “Pre-Pitch Interview Room Partner”, Euro Vigil Security Services is the “Security Partner”, Raw Exposure is the “Photography Partner”, Live2Web is the “Backstory Partner”, Chows is the “Restaurant Partner”,Miniso is the “Gift Partner” and Concito is the “PR Partner” of Shark Tank Bangladesh Season 1. Deepto TV will broadcast the inaugural season of the show while it will be streamed on Bongo.

Shark Tank Bangladesh Season 1: The Sharks

Sami Ahmed

Startup Bangladesh

Advertisement

Sami Ahmed, Managing Director and CEO of Startup Bangladesh Limited (SBL), a Government Venture Capital firm, spearheads seed-stage and growth-stage startup investments. He is committed to helping empower the local startup ecosystem and has dedicated his career to helping improve the tech landscape in Bangladesh.  Previously, he advised LICT and held pivotal roles in Bangladesh’s IT-ITES Industry and BASIS. His influence extends to the Government and private sector. With a background in computer science from the University of Texas, Austin, he leverages US experience to foster Bangladesh’s ICT growth. Recognized for shaping digital policies, Ahmed’s return to Bangladesh signifies a commitment to societal and national progress, solidifying his pivotal role in the country’s startup ecosystem.

Nazim Farhan Chowdhury

ADCOMM

Nazim Farhan Choudhury is a serial entrepreneur and a feminist. He is also the Managing Director of Adcomm Holding Group which has investments in Advertising, IT, Hospitality, and Media. They have also been active investors in the Bangladesh startup scene for over a decade. The most prominent of their investment is in one of the top 3 advertising agencies in Bangladesh.  With stellar clients like Unilever, Akij Ventures, and a host of top brands in the country, Adcomm over the last 50 years has been a powerhouse in the advertising communication space. The group’s IT companies GraphicPeople, SoftwarePeople, and The Kow Company are amongst the country’s top ITES exporters, employing over 600 people. The group’s Nazimgarh Resorts runs two luxury resorts in Sylhet. Choudhury’s involvement in the start-up ecosystem has been proven by an enviable string of investments including Aamartaka, HandyMama, and Babuland among quite a few others. Choudhury is also an active mentor and is involved in voluntary organizations like the Jaago Foundation as a founding trustee.  Choudhury’s commitment to innovation and excellence cements his influence in Bangladesh’s business community.

Golam Murshed

Advertisement

Majesto Limited/Ex-Walton

Golam Murshed,  currently the Managing Director of Majesto Limited is a dedicated business leader who has left an enduring mark on Walton, a renowned conglomerate, over a decade-long career, where he helped catapult them into a multi-billion dollar company as the Managing Director. His commitment to excellence, innovative production, and assertive marketing strategies have positioned him as a prominent figure.Murshed’s exceptional leadership, coupled with his expertise in technology and product management, empowers him to navigate dynamic market landscapes effortlessly. His dedication to innovation and industry leadership is now poised to revolutionize the furniture industry.

Kazi Mahboob Hassan

R Ventures PLC

Kazi M. Hassan, CEO of Robi’s digital ventures arm R Ventures PLC, drives the company’s digital growth, collaborating with partners to enhance customer experiences. With an MBA from Oxford and FCCA qualification, he chairs ACCA Bangladesh’s Member Advisory Committee. Previously, Kazi led international strategies at logistics giant DELHIVERY, advised a2i on restructuring, and held key roles at local Telcos. He supports Bangladeshi startups, mentors entrepreneurs, and attracts foreign investments, contributing significantly to the country’s tech ecosystem.

Advertisement

Samanzar Khan

AKS Khan Holdings Ltd

Samanzar Khan is the Managing Director of A K S Khan Holdings Ltd, an investment and operating company that aggressively identifies and acquires companies in which it can leverage its strengths to generate superior earnings or market value. She is the eldest daughter of Mr. A K Shamsuddin Khan, Chairman of A K Khan & Co. Ltd. A Barrister by qualification, she graduated from the London School of Economics. She founded Bonex UK Ltd in 2008, marketing unique fire-fighting solutions in the UK and Europe. In 2010, she returned to Bangladesh to become the CEO of A K Khan Healthcare Trust, a non-profit founded by her father to enhance healthcare in Bangladesh. A decade on, she now manages a diverse portfolio of companies across different sectors ranging from healthcare, agriculture to education.

Fahim Mashroor

Bdjobs.com

Advertisement

Fahim Mashroor is Managing Director of Bdjobs.com, the most popular online job searching platform in the country. Fahim founded Bdjobs 23 years ago in 2000. Currently the company has over 300 members working in the 10 offices across the country. It is the first tech company that got valued by a global tech company. In 2015, SEEK Australia purchased its 25% share at a valuation of 25 Million USD. Fahim Mashroor has been investing actively in different tech startups in software, logistics, fintech and eCommerce. For his innovative contribution in the tech industry, Fahim has received a number of prestigious awards such as Best SME entrepreneurs by SME foundation and ICT Personality of the Year by ICT ministry

Ahmed Ali

TISTA Science and Technology Corporation

Ahmed R. Ali, Founder and Chairman of TISTA Science and Technology Corporation, grew the company from a small operation to a thriving multimillion-dollar enterprise, emphasizing hard work and excellence. Inspired by Top Gun, he joined the military to fund his education, excelling as a radio frequency engineer. Transitioning to IT security, Ahmed founded TISTA, overcoming challenges with determination to take his cyber security firm to a several thousand crore annual revenue company which he built from the ground up. Raised by Bangladeshi immigrant parents, he values giving back to the country and honors his heritage through TISTA’s name. Ahmed’s story reflects resilience, service, and a commitment to impact.

In addition to these Sharks, several other high-profile female entrepreneurs will be joining the Tank. Their names will be shared soon.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Business

Telenor to sell Pakistan telecoms unit for $490 mln

Published

on

Reading Time: < 1 minute

OSLO, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Norway’s Telenor (TEL.OL) said on Thursday it had agreed to sell its Pakistan unit to state group Pakistan Telecommunications (PTCA.PSX) in a transaction valuing the unit at 5.3 billion Norwegian crowns ($490 million).

The Norwegian group has been restructuring its Asian businesses, building bigger units in Thailand and Malaysia via local mergers, and had said it hoped to decide on a solution for the Pakistan business by year-end.

“We also tried to do a merger in Pakistan but we didn’t manage to get that, and when we saw this wasn’t happening the second-best alternative was to arrange a sale,” Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke told Reuters.

“It was a combination of not getting the structure in place, and value. So we found a sale was better for our shareholders,” he added.

Advertisement

Telenor Pakistan, launched 18 years ago, has 45 million customers.

Pakistan Telecommunications’ share price rose 8.3% on Thursday, while Telenor’s was up 1.1% at 0837 GMT.

In the first nine months, Telenor Pakistan contributed 2.6 billion crowns in service revenue and 1.4 billion crowns in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to the group.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals, and the aim is to close it during 2024. The sale was not estimated to have a significant impact on financials for 2023, Telenor said.

Telenor’s remaining Asian portfolio consists of stakes in Grameenphone in Bangladesh, CelcomDigi in Malaysia and True Corp in Thailand, with close to 160 million customers combined.

Advertisement

“Telenor Asia will remain an active owner for the three market-leading businesses which make up our Asian portfolio,” said the head of the company’s operation in the region, Petter-Boerre Furberg.

($1 = 10.7403 Norwegian crowns)

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Daily Frontline. Bangladesh Independent Daily. e-mail:dailyfrontlinebd@gmail.com