Speakers at an international webinar have stressed the need for diversifying the country's export basket and focusing on bilateral free trade agreements to address the challenges of the post-Covid global economic shock.
Though Bangladesh has emerged as one of the top performers during the Covid-19 pandemic, they said, it has to get ready to face the challenges after its graduation from LDC status.
Bangladesh-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI) organised the webinar on 'Post-Covid economic relations between Bangladesh and Germany' on Wednesday.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was the chief guest at the programme chaired by Omar Sadat, president of BGCCI.
The minister stressed the need for further promoting the bilateral ties between the two countries, reminding the fact that Germany is the second-largest export destination of Bangladesh and top trading partner in Europe.
The country will face some challenges after its graduation from LDC status in terms of tariff burden, he said, adding that Germany along with its European allies can help Bangladesh in this regard.
The minister also urged BGCCI to continue playing its role in further consolidating the bilateral trade ties between the two countries.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan expressed the hope that in the coming days, German investment in Bangladesh will grow as there has been massive reform of FDI policies in the country.
Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow of the CPD, urged the government to set up country-specific special economic zones to draw investment from other countries.
One such SEZ can be allocated to German investors, he said pointing out that German investment in the country was only $193 million, compared to US$3.7 billion from the USA and $2.5 billion from the UK in the last fiscal year.
BGMEA president Rubana Huq urged the German financial institutions to come up with post-export payment guarantee schemes, saying that Bangladeshi exporters have $8 billion accounts receivable from international buyers.
She also urged the German investors to invest in promoting man-made fibre technology in Bangladesh.
Syed Nasim Manzur, Managing Director of Apex Footwear Ltd, told the webinar that Bangladesh outperformed many other countries in achieving growth during the pandemic due to various factors, including the prudence of the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the resilience of the country's workers.
Terming Germany the engine of Europe, Mr Nasim said when the buyers of Germany slow shopping, it affects buyers in other countries.
He stated that since October, exports to Germany fell by 47 per cent and the country went into lockdown in mid-December, the peak season for retail sales.
CEO of StanChart Naser Ezaz Bijoy said the behaviour of international buyers has now become an issue, not the performance of Bangladeshi exporters.
CEO of the BGCCI Ambassador Shahed Akhtar moderated the discussion.
Marck Wengrzik, MD of AKA Export Credit, Ms Christine Jordan, Head of Structured Finance, Stan Chart AG, Jan Mortiz, Head of Country Committee, BD East Asia Association also took part in the webinar.