The Financial Express

Covid fallout, LDC challenges to top agenda at WTO ministerial conference

| Updated: November 27, 2021 09:46:44

Covid fallout, LDC challenges to top agenda at WTO ministerial conference

The economic fallout of Covid-19 along with challenges that come with LDC graduation will get preference in the upcoming 12th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh on Tuesday.

The conference, scheduled to be held in Geneva, Switzerland next week, is important for Bangladesh as it is going to graduate from the least developed country (LDC) to a developing one in near future.

"Building domestic capacity is needed to sustain in the international competitive market after LDC graduation, apart from global cooperation," Mr Ghosh said.

He underscored the need for bringing necessary reforms so that Bangladesh gets better prepared to face the upcoming challenges.

Mr Ghosh made these statements at a workshop arranged by the Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) at its conference room in the city, ahead of the WTO conference, to be held from November 30 to December 3.

Details of the points of negotiation from the Bangladesh side have been discussed at the workshop.

The commerce secretary expressed optimism over getting preferential treatment after its graduation in 2026.

He said the LDCs had come into a consensus to seek preferential trade benefits for six to nine years even after graduation.

"We expect a positive declaration in this regard," he said.

In case of any deferment of the decision, Bangladesh will keep the discussion alive, Mr Ghosh added.

Bangladesh is expected to place its proposals regarding GSP, TRIPS, IPR, and fisheries subsidy in the upcoming conference.

Bangladesh has a capacity to compete and sustain in the international market, said the commerce secretary, adding that his ministry was formulating the next export policy keeping in mind the challenges of LDC graduation.

Director General (DG) of the WTO cell Md Hafizur Rahman shared the preparation of the Ministry of Commerce for next week's meeting.

The DG said Bangladesh would try to keep small fish farmers, aquaculture and inland fishing outside of the WTO regulations.

It will also seek special and differential treatment for fuel subsidies for fishing and has already opposed the inclusion of workers' rights and trade for peace in the WTO regulations, said Mr Rahman.

Former member of Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) Dr Mostafa Abid Khan explained the pros and cons of the previous meetings of WTO and put forward expectations from the upcoming ones.

After graduation, Dr Abid said, a country should be self-reliant rather than seeking preferential treatment.

He expressed doubt over the impressive outcome of the upcoming WTO conference, as reaching negotiation relating to preferential treatment for LDC graduating countries would be hard to come by.

ERF President Sharmeen Rinvy, Secretary General SM Rashidul Islam, among others, also spoke at the workshop.

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