Speakers at a virtual dialogue on Saturday stressed the need for developing local market and manufacturing capacity to face emerging challenges and remain competitive in the post-LDC era.
They also suggested modernisation and automation of tax, VAT and duty structures, development of the supply chain ecosystem, attracting new investment, using technology, development of human resources, and ensuring low-cost financing to make local businesses more competitive.
The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) organised the dialogue on "Local Market Development: Preparedness for Post-LDC Era". Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh joined the event as the chief guest, said a press release.
In his opening remarks, DCCI President Rizwan Rahman said the country's exports will have to face different compliance issues, branding, IPR, International Support Measures, duty and non-duty related challenges after graduation from the least developed country (LDC) status.
"Based on our present economic situation, development of the local market is also equally important besides the export market," he told the dialogue.
As the total market scenario will be changed after graduation, he added, development of local businesses, boosting local manufacturing capacity, and increasing product quality are also very important.
FMCG, fashion wear, footwear, lifestyle and pharmaceuticals have good demand in the local market. "Therefore, in consideration with reformed duty structure, tax structure, good manufacturing environment, changed consumer behaviour pattern we can make our supply chain ecosystem more competitive."
To develop an environment for the local market, innovative implementation strategies will bring changes, said the DCCI President.
He also requested the Bangladesh Bank to extend the moratorium period of loan.
Taking part in the discussion, Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh stressed on enhancing value addition to build export competitiveness and said the government has focused on signing FTAs and PTAs but after protecting the local market and revenue collection.
Ensuring low-cost financing, ease of doing business, efficiency in port and customs, and skills development are some of the major other issues for the post-LDC period, he said.
"Besides, we have to strengthen our local industry," said the secretary, alerting the businesses that the government will not be able to give any cash incentives directly to the export sector after the country's graduation.
However, he said the government would try to facilitate the private sector in another way. "The present government is more business friendly and will do all necessary reforms as per the needs of the private sector."
Mr Ghosh said that attracting FDI will help create market access opportunities while the businesses needed to be competitive to grab the opportunities.
For ease of doing business, he suggested simplification of the documentation process and automation of all government services.
Md. Masud Sadiq, Member (VAT Policy) of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), stressed the need for enhancing efficiency of businesses for development of the local market in the post-LDC era.
He also emphasised on port efficiency, easy funding, vat system automation, infrastructure development and technology adaptation.
Dr. Md. Habibur Rahman, Executive Director (Research) at Bangladesh Bank, said that the local market is a big one and stressed that the regulatory authorities like Bangladesh Bank, BSEC, ministries of finance and commerce, NBR and all related regulators will have to play a significant role to make businesses competitive after graduation.
He informed that in the latest monetary policy, the interest rate has been cut drastically. Therefore, the private sector will get access to low-cost funding as there is enough liquidity in the banks.
The monetary policy tried to focus on private sector credit expansion, he said, adding that Bangladesh Bank will soon float another re-financing scheme of Tk 5.0 billion for the survival of the tourism industry.
Sha Md. Abu Raihan Alberuni, Member (TPD) at Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC), stressed the need for strengthening backward linkage industry. He said the government should also strengthen the BTTC.
Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, Chairman and CEO of PRAN-RFL Group, suggested identifying the existing bottlenecks and solving the problems immediately. He identified productivity as the main hindrance for export competitiveness. He also urged the government to allow bonded warehouse facilities for all export-oriented sectors, including the bicycle industry.
Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon, President of National Association of Small & Cottage lndustries of Bangladesh (NASCIB), emphasised on training up the small entrepreneurs and said a Human Resource Development Fund has been created, but it is yet to become operational.
Dr. M. Abu Eusuf, Executive Director at Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID), said that as the country may lose few preferential treatments after its graduation, it is imperative to focus on local market development.
"We are in a transition period but now we need a coordinated planning and implementation by including all stakeholders in the next five years. We have to address the compliance issues," he added.
S M Shafiuzzaman, Secretary General of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries, said Bangladesh exports pharmaceutical products to almost 151 countries.
"Even after graduation, we will be able to keep our market as the quality of Bangladeshi pharmaceutical products is quite satisfactory. But we have to complete the API Park as soon as possible."
Abul Bashar Howlader, Additional Managing Director of Walton Hi-Tech Industries, stressed the need for focusing on export diversification. "Moreover, we need to sign FTAs with different potential trade partners."
DCCI Vice President Monowar Hossain gave a vote of thanks.