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Bangladesh targets $110b export by FY'27

Cabinet body endorses upbeat draft export policy

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Bangladesh sets sights high on US$110 billion in export earnings by fiscal year 2026-27 in a substantial increase from the current mark, which officials see achievable but economists appear a bit sceptical.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) Wednesday approved the draft Export Policy 2024-2027 with the aim of ramping up the country's earnings from export of goods and services over the next three years from the current target of $72 billion.

So far this fiscal year of 2023-24, this export proceeds have missed the mark, fetching $47.47 billion during July-April period, official data show.

The earning marks only a 3.93-percent annualised growth but having fallen short of the target by 6.87 per cent.

With Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali presiding, the cabinet body gave the approval "in principle" for the draft policy placed by the ministry of commerce.

The finance minister joined the meeting, held in the Cabinet Division conference room at Bangladesh Secretariat, virtually for his illness.

Contacted for his view of the export policy, Prof Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), told the FE the target for FY 2026-27 is not big provided requisite steps taken by the government.

"The target is ambitious but achievable," he said, adding that export diversifications in both apparel and non-apparel sectors are highly required in this case.

Mr Rahman also underscores market diversification that grabs regional markets to raise exports for getting to the goal.

Abdus Salam Murshedy, president, the Exporters' Association of Bangladesh (EAB), told the FE challenges are there stemming from the fallout from pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, and LDC graduation, but, at the same time, infrastructural development in the country has created scope to attract foreign investments.

"We will be able to achieve the export target with government policy assistance and boosting investments," he hoped.

Cabinet Division Secretary (Coordination and Reforms) Mahmudul Hossain Khan, briefing newsmen after the meeting, said the CCEA also approved a proposal allowing the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) to import or locally buy essential products under direct purchase method or any other method one more year until June next year.

Mr Khan said the new export policy has been prepared taking into consideration the challenges Bangladesh may face after graduation from the lest-developed country (LDC) club, prioritising sectors and products as per their potential and impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the raging Russia-Ukraine war, and the fourth industrial revolution or 4IR, among others.

Providing support to the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, taking steps to increase the participation of the women entrepreneurs in export-oriented sectors, adoption of environment-friendly and circular economy, inclusion of vegetables and handicrafts as potential priority exportable items, and finding alternative ways of providing stimulus to the exporters following rules and regulations of the WTO also got priority in the new policy, he told reporters.

The secretary also said, "The permission allowing the TCB to follow direct-purchase method or any other method is due to expire on May 26 this year and so the meeting approved a proposal extending the permission by one more year."

Meantime, the finance minister also chaired a meeting of the cabinet committee on government purchase on the day which approved procurement of fertilisers and lentils, construction of buffer godowns, and the setting up of substations, among others.

Mr Khan also informed that the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the governmental trading wing that works to maintain balance on the market, was given the go-ahead to buy 10,000 tonnes of lentils locally through open tender from Ease General Trading, Dhaka, and Nabil Naba Food Products Ltd, Dhaka, at a cost of Tk 1.02 billion. Per-kg lentils will cost Tk 101.94.

Also the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) has been permitted to buy 40,000 tonnes of MOP fertiliser from Canadian Commercial Corporation at a price of Tk 1.254 billion and 40,000 tonnes of DAP fertiliser from MA'ADEN, Saudi Arabia, for Tk 2.283 billion.

Procurement of each tonne of MOP fertiliser will cost $327.75 while the DAP fertiliser will cost $554 per tonne.

The meeting also approved a proposal allowing Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) to import 30,000 tonnes of bulk granular urea fertiliser from Muntajat, Qatar, at a price of Tk 922.9 million.

The state corporation in another lot will buy 30,000 tonnes of bulk granular urea fertiliser from SABIC Agri-Nutrients Company, Saudi Arabia, at a price of Tk 911.3 million and 30,000 tonnes of bagged granular urea fertiliser at Tk 959.3 million.

Also, the meeting approved a proposal of the Ministry of Industries for construction of four buffer godowns in Joypurhat, Sirajganj, Lalmonirhat and Dinajpur for preservation and distribution of fertilisers.

Under another proposal the committee allows setting up 25 power substations in Khulna Division by Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board, said the cabinet division secretary.

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