2 months ago

Facing LDC graduation challenges: BD to place action plan to EU

Trade team to visit EU states on Mar 26-Apr 02

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Dhaka is expected to place its detailed action plan before the European Union (EU) on addressing the possible challenges after Bangladesh's graduation from the least-developed country (LDC) in 2026, sources said.

It will also seek continued trade preferences under the EU's new Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) beyond 2029 to make the LDC graduation smooth and sustainable.

A high-powered trade delegation, headed by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) principal secretary, will visit different EU countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, from March 26 to April 02, they noted.

Senior Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh and the presidents of BGMEA and BUILD, among others, have been included in the delegation.

During the visit, the delegation will present the government's action plan to the EU and seek necessary support from the bloc, including its policy-makers and business leaders.

The visit will contribute to extending cooperation between Bangladesh and the EU in different sectors, they added.

The EU is Bangladesh's largest export destination. Bangladesh has been enjoying duty-free facility in exporting goods to the different EU countries since 2001 under its Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.

Around 50 per cent of Bangladesh's export earnings come from the bloc. The country exported goods worth US$23 billion to the bloc.

The ongoing EU GSP facility will end in this December, and a new GSP scheme will be effective from January 01 for 2024-2034. The EU parliament is now reviewing the new GSP regulation.

In the new GSP, duty-free market access to the EU market might be subjected to fulfilling difficult conditions. Besides, it has also proposed to bring product graduation and rules of origin under hard conditions after 2026.

After the LDC graduation, Bangladesh will have to meet strict requirements. Export of the country's RMG items to the EU market might be affected due to the proposals.

"We will seek the EU's support for continued trade preferences under its new GSP beyond 2029 - to make the LDC graduation sustainable. It is the high time to try for retaining the facility, as the EU parliament is now reviewing the new system," said an official concerned.

Availing concessional trade facility under the GSP Plus window is considered important for Bangladesh after its graduation.

"Besides, this visit will play an important role in augmenting ties between Bangladesh and Europe - marking celebration of 50 years of diplomatic ties," he added.

Currently, Bangladesh's products have duty-free market access to 38 countries. Of the countries, 28 are the EU member-states.

The EU EBA grants 46 LDCs - including Bangladesh - duty-free and quota-free market access for exporting all products, except arms and ammunition.

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