Ending all speculations about the fate of Bangladesh's exports in post-Brexit regime, the United Kingdom has assured Bangladesh of continuing its duty-free and quota-free access for Bangladeshi products to its market even after its exit from the European Union, officials said.
They said British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Chatterton Dickson in a recent letter has assured the commerce ministry of the continuation of the special trade facility by his government.
The British envoy in his letter mentioned, "The UK will leave the European Union on October 31 with or without a deal. We are ready to continue trading on day one of Brexit and government departments are working together to secure a smooth transition."
All the countries that are current beneficiaries of the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) will continue to get same market access under the UK's trade preference scheme following Brexit, he said.
The government's intention is, therefore, to provide Bangladesh with same duty-free and quota-free access it currently receives under the Everything But Arms (EBA) tier of the EU's preference scheme, known as the Least Developed Country framework in the UK's scheme, he added.
Mr Dickson also mentioned that his government would temporarily cut tariffs to zero on most imported goods for a period of 12 months if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. "This policy would only be implemented in the case of a no-deal exit from the EU."
He said tariffs lowered for everyone may expose Bangladesh and other developing countries to more competition on some goods instead of previous competitive advantage.
This is necessary to combat price rises for British consumers and disruption to supply chains for British businesses, the envoy added.
"To mitigate this, the UK will retain tariffs at current EU 'Most Favoured Nation' (MFN) levels on some of the most important products for developing countries including Bangladesh such as many (but not all) types of clothing, and frozen shrimp," the letter reads.
Bangladesh will still receive tariff-free access for MFN goods through the Least Developed Country framework. The post-Brexit UK trade preference scheme is a long-term commitment. It will provide valuable access now and into the future, once the temporary tariff period comes to an end, the envoy said.
"Further, we are committed to support Bangladesh trade during LDC graduation and intend to include a generous transition period of at least three years for it to retain duty-free access."
The UK remains fully committed to ensuring that developing countries can reduce poverty through trading opportunities and they will continue to champion economic development more broadly in Bangladesh and elsewhere, he mentioned in the letter.
When contacted, Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Exporters Association of Bangladesh, said in the present circumstances of global challenges, the assurance from Britain to continue with the existing benefit after Brexit is definitely good news for Bangladeshi manufacturers.
"This is government's success on the diplomatic front," said Mr Murshedy, also a member of parliament.
In the fiscal year 2018-19, Bangladesh's export earnings from the UK posted a 4.51 per cent growth to US$ 4.16 billion against 11.76 per cent growth to US$ 3.99 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18, according to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data.