Absence of direct marketing, limited exportables and language are major barriers to the rise of exports to China, traders and exporters said.
They alleged that factors such as poor negotiating skills and lengthy process of getting products' certification or certificate of origins from China did also hurt flow of exports to the world's second largest economy.
The country's overall exports to the global economic powerhouse declined above 26 per cent in fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 to $694.96 million.
It was $949.41 million in the FY '17, according to the latest Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data.
Apparel exports to China also remained stagnant at $391.64 million for the year, according to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Leather and leather goods exports to China fell to $75.29 million in last fiscal which was $239.04 million in the fiscal of 2016-17, according to EPB data.
Bangladeshi exporters, especially processed food exporters, have to wait inordinately to receive testing certification from China.
Procrastination is one of the key reasons behind this decline in export, said ATM Azizul Akil, senior vice-president of Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
The exporters are not getting full cooperation from the authorities concerned in this regard, he claimed.
China is becoming one of the largest importers and Bangladeshi agro-products and fresh fish are in great demand there, Mr Akil mentioned.
Nizamuddin Chowdhury, vice-president of the BCCI, said more than 4,500 local items get duty-free access to China, but the exportable items, in true sense, are very limited.
Both leaders laid stress on better dealing, product diversification, value addition and inclusion of major exportables to raise the export volume.
They underscored the need for a proactive role by the Bangladesh mission in China.
They sought government's policy support to organise meetings, seminars and trade shows to showcase the local products in China and their capacity to Chinese counterparts.
When asked, an EPB official said exporters need to take certificate of origin from Chinese authority through Bangladesh embassy there.
He, however, dismissed the allegation that the EBP was not disbursing the papers for certificates once they receive from concerned authority.
Fazlul Haque, former president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said Bangladesh does not have direct business with Chinese buyers who mainly import apparel from Bangladesh.
He suggested examining whether their business is shirking or demand is falling in the Chinese market.
An exporter, who is trying to link direct sourcing with Chinese buyers, said Chinese buyers are more interested to set up manufacturing units here and then export to China.
"Language and marketing are also major barriers as Chinese importers feel confident in doing business through Chinese people," he told the FE.
The businessman exports both knit and woven items to various destinations beyond the traditional ones.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem, additional research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said although Bangladesh gets duty-free market access, Chinese rules of origin are very tough.
The number of exportables that get duty-free facility is also limited, he added.
On the other hand, Bangladesh is yet to show its strength in making non-cotton or man-made fibre-based garments, Mr Moazzem mentioned.
The government should make a move to get the Chinese rules of origin relaxed for locally made items, he said.
It should also scrutinise whether the country is in a position to sign a free trade agreement.
China is shifting from low-end product manufacturing. It should be studied whether China meets its domestic demand through imports or own supply, he added.
If they meet their demand through imports, what types of items they import should be explored, Mr Moazzem noted.
Bangladesh is only getting the orders that are shifting from China but is yet to attract Chinese investments due to infrastructural bottlenecks here, he opined.
Lead time is another issue as Bangladesh does not have any direct shipping as Vietnam has, he said, suggesting that the issues be examined in details.
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