Bangladesh has initiated a move to comply with the European Union's (EU) Registered Exporter (REX) certification system of origin of goods to retain the GSP (generalised system of preference) facility there, officials said.
The REX system is based on principle of self-certification by exporters, who will issue statements on origin to themselves, according to the EU official website.
To be entitled to issue statements on origin, the exporters will have to be registered in a database by the competent authority of their respective countries, it said.
Under the system, all Bangladeshi exporters will have to be registered with the state-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) to export to the EU, said the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) officials.
After registration with the EPB, the exporters can issue self declaration certificates on eligibility of duty-free facility, they added.
When asked, the EPB Vice Chairman Shafiqul lslam said the government will start the registration process shortly.
"The commerce minister will inaugurate the process next week by offering registration numbers to some exporters," he told the FE on Sunday.
The effective application date of REX system for Bangladesh began on January 01 this year and will end on December 31.
There will be another six months as transition period until June next year, he said, expressing hope that they will fully comply with the requirement by the time.
The REX system is applicable for the EU GSP beneficiary countries, and the EU notified Bangladesh about it in 2017, he added.
The global transition period from the current system of origin certification to the REX system started in 1st January 2017, and will last until 30th June 2020, according to the EU.
Once included in the database, an economic operator will become a 'registered exporter'. The REX system will eventually fully replace the current system, based on certificates of origin - issued by the governmental authorities, and on invoice declarations made out by economic operators.
Under the REX system, Bangladeshi products will get duty-free access facility. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have already introduced the system, the MoC officials said.
"The main purposes of introducing the fully online system are to allow the exporters to issue self declaration on statement on origin, to bring them under a competent authority's registration, and to ensure transparency and accountability in export process through monitoring," a MoC official said.
He, however, said risks to issue fake GSP certificates still exist despite introduction of the REX system.
There were some incidents of issuing fake GSP certificates in the name of Bangladesh by a few countries that are not getting GSP facility to the EU, he added.
There are some 15,000 local exporting companies, including those of ready-made garment sector, and issuance of registration number to them is a huge task for the EPB. Besides, the system is also new for the country, the MoC officials opined.
Bangladesh's trade might be hampered, if export information and raw materials of the registered companies are misused, they noted.
When asked, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Dr Rubana Huq said, "The self certification process is commendable and time-saving, and the process of double checking the authenticity of an exporter's GSP claim is going to be eliminated through it."
A delegation will visit India soon to learn more about the REX system, while they have also visited Sri Lanka recently, she concluded.
Currently, Bangladesh enjoys duty-free facility in exporting goods to the EU under its EBA (everything but arms) scheme. More than 60 per cent of Bangladeshi goods are exported to the EU.
The country fetched US$ 40.53 billion from exporting goods in the just concluded fiscal year, 2018-19, according to official data.
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