Bangladeshi exporters encounter difficulties at different destinations as foreign buyers often discount the certification by the local authorised bodies who lack accredited labs, revealed a latest study.
"Due to such shortcomings, exporters face serious obstacles while sending shipments. Even their products become less and less competitive for taking additional cost and time," it said.
Delays in international trade processes in Bangladesh are often caused by domestic institutional weaknesses and procedural obstacles, said the study done by the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI).
The think tank conducted the research titled 'Analysing the Gap in Issuing Certificates of Standards for Export' for the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) under commerce ministry.
The research involved six local export-oriented sectors and several certifying agencies to identify the gap and propose quick resolution of the problems.
The local exportables include jute, leather, plastic, horticultural products, frozen food and herbal items.
The study analysed capacity and acceptance of certification authorities like Bangladesh Accreditation Board (BAB), Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) and Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI).
"Even if BCSIR has accreditation from BAB, buyers still prefer third parties to test and certify. Steps are, therefore, needed to improve its existing testing and certification facilities," it suggested.
Despite being accredited by BAB, the study said, the certification provided by institutions like Fish Inspection and Quality Control (FIQC) and BSTI are not accepted by many importers.
BCSIR is capable of testing some parameters, but the tests are not recognised by buyers, it said.
Even the institution does not have any accreditation from BAB as an autonomous body, it added.
To boost capacity of the certifying agencies, the study recommended developing a national quality infrastructure (NQI), building capacity of allied institutions and executing the National Quality Policy.
It has also suggested re-engineering the public NQI organisations, and capacity building of the institutions like BCSIR, EPB, BSTI and BAB.
About BAB, the study said it is recognised by regional and international associations like the Asia-Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) and International Laboratory Accreditation Corporation (ILAC) since 2015.
This recognition refers to the equivalence of all the conformity assessment activities done in Bangladesh through the BAB-endorsed testing laboratories.
"Yet testing and certification provided by institutions like FIQC and BSTI are not recognised by many importers," reads the report.
When asked, BAB deputy director Md Nasirul Islam said it is not unusual that some buyers demand more recognition even after certification from Bangladesh's accredited certifying bodies.
"The rules associated with import differ from country to country. So, there is nothing that Bangladesh can do in this regard," he told the FE.
BSTI deputy director Riazul Haque underscored the need for country branding to increase acceptance of Bangladeshi products to foreign buyers.
"In some cases, we also want certification from more than one agency while import goods from different destinations," he said.
Signing bilateral trade agreements are crucial to ease these barriers, he said, adding that Bangladesh already has such an agreement with India.
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