Direct trade links with Tunisia to boost exports

Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan | Published: April 16, 2018 10:54:00 | Updated: April 17, 2018 10:27:23

Dhaka is keen to establish direct trade links with Tunisia to explore more markets for its readymade garments (RMG) in the North African country.

The issue has been raised during a ministerial-level meeting held between the two countries in the Tunisian capital earlier this month.

Bangladeshi readymade garments already have some market in Tunisia. In the last fiscal, products and services totalling US$ 5.4 million was exported from Bangladesh to the North African country, almost two-thirds of which comprise apparel items.

However, much of these Bangladeshi readymade garments are shipped to Tunisia from its neighbouring countries like Turkey and Italy, resulting in an increase in the price of Bangladeshi RMG in the Tunisian market.

During a recent visit to Tunisia on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Islamic Development Bank, Finance Minister AMA Muhith raised the issue to Tunisian Minister for Development Investment and International Cooperation Zied Ladhari.

"The two ministers have discussed the issue of establishing direct link between business entities of the two countries," a member of the Bangladesh delegation who visited Tunisia with the Finance Minister told the FE.

"Bangladeshi garments exporters would be able to sell their products at a much lower price to Tunisian markets if direct trade links for RMG products can be established," he added.

"We have suggested that expert groups of Bangladesh readymade garments manufacturers can visit Tunisian chambers to share knowledge and explore Tunisian market. This can be helpful for both the countries," the high official said.

Due to geographical distance and less exposure of the North African nation, Tunisia never received much attention from Bangladesh's exporters.

Insiders, however, observed that apart from readymade garments, there is a big potential market for Bangladeshi medicines, leather goods and handicrafts in Tunisia.

At the same time, Tunisian olive, olive oil and dates can have good potential market in Bangladesh.

Tunisian export to Bangladesh, in the fiscal year 2016-17, amounted to Tk. 7.5 billion, down from Tk 9.11 billion in FY 2012-13.

The country's close proximity to Southern Europe means that European Union, especially France and Italy, are the closest business partner of Tunisia -- both in terms of import and export.

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