A $10-million financial grant, Export Readiness Fund (ERF), was launched on Sunday to rev up export earnings of the country's four target sectors.
The fund is rolling out under the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project implemented by the commerce ministry with support from World Bank Group.
The sectors are leather and leather goods, footwear, plastics and light engineering products, said EC4J project director Md Obaidul Azam at the ERF launch.
Commerce secretary Md Jafar Uddin, World Bank Group private sector specialist Hosna Ferdous Sumi and ERF team leader Elwood Pye, among others, attended the event held at a city hotel.
The project aims to address the key constraints hindering market access of the target sectors, Mr Azam said.
The ERF is a matching grant programme of EC4J project and rolling out to help relevant firms to identify and address environmental, social and quality (ESQ) compliance gap.
It will upgrade products and production processes, and support them meet the standards set by large buyers/brands and comply with laws and regulations of major export markets, Mr Azam added.
Export diversification is a key agenda of the government to continue to deliver on accelerated growth, sustainable development and better job creation, he mentioned.
Secretary Mr Jafar said the project worth Tk 840 million would be helpful for the select sectors to diversify products, thus enhancing their competitiveness globally and rising export earnings.
At the programme, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Sheikh Fazle Fahim said specific government policy support is needed for diversification.
They are working on developing a national export strategy.
Any changes in the trade and investment policy should be made through commerce ministry in consultation with stakeholders and trade bodies, Mr Fahim observed.
He suggested that the bonded warehouse facility, now provided to the ready-made garment (RMG) sector only, be given to other export-oriented sectors as well.
Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Md Saiful Islam also stressed the need for diversification.
He said 84 per cent of the total export earnings come from RMG and the rest 16 per cent from other sectors.
When a country depends on a single product, it is vulnerable to both internal and external trade, Mr Islam explained.
"We must have export-led growth to achieve SDG goal which requires decent work," he went on to say.
Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Md Jashim Uddin said plastic sector has potential to grow and boost export earnings if compliance is maintained and capacity increased.
The $5000 support is very insignificant that would be given for ESQ assessment, he added.
Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners' Association president Abdur Razzaque focused on the scope for value addition to the sector.