The Financial Express

A discourse on reducing the trade gap

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A discourse on reducing the trade gap

In an economy like ours, the required amount of foreign exchange has to be kept ready for import payment. The economy is not in a comfortable position with the current reserve of more than $ 30 billion because of its being an import-focused economy. In the macroeconomic context, the trade balance is a key issue in keeping the economy stable. If it is ignored, the diversification of export products will suffer.  So, trade-oriented mindset of all people living in the country is very important. Except the foreign remittance there is no way to open new doors to bringing foreign exchange reserve to a great extent.

The country's trade activities have been related with mainly ten countries over the years. The ten countries are regarded as big players in terms of export-import activities involving Bangladesh. As of today, being a least developed country, we could not turn Bangladesh into a fully export-dependent economy. But, there are many opportunities to brand the country as an export-dependent economy, if joint efforts are made by both the government and the traders. To take the country forward economically, there is no alternative to reducing the trade gap that is increasing gradually.

Nevertheless, the head of the government in power along with associates is in a race to find out the real cause of the widening trade gap. Once upon a time, Bangladesh was very much neglected by the world community in respect of trade. But their ideas about the country's recent progress have completely changed. The country is likely to surpass many leading economies in terms of the growth rate. The days are not far off. Already the global appreciations are pouring in because of the rising trend.

Currently, the trade sector apart from services sector is getting priority from concerned lawmakers. The trade-focused economy is needed right now, if we want to reach our goal of meeting the middle-income country criteria in the final review in 2021. India and China-two leading economies-have been able to attain all goals due to wise decisions taken by their head of states. The trade gap with these two big economies is continuously widening. In view of this scenario, a series of steps are underway from the government side. But we don't know when the trade gap will reach the equilibrium point.  

There is no denying the fact that Bangladesh has so far made progress in most areas, mainly in the economic sector. The achievement had been possible due to support given from all people collectively. The country is running towards prosperity. The economic growth rate of 7.86 per cent was not possible within a short time. It took many years with new steps undertaken by the state. In view of the widening trade gap, the commerce ministry has been advised to take initiatives to explore new destinations for export of goods and services.

It should be added that Bangladesh is going to qualify for the middle income country status sooner. So, even a second should not be wasted to link up with the demand-driven countries by exporting our products by hook or by crook. Earlier, we achieved a lot but to sustain the economic growth, a lot of efforts need to be made. Otherwise, we might miss out on reaching the desired goals set by the United Nations and others.

Development of regional connectivity at this moment should be in focus. If rail connectivity with India and China is established, the trade gap may decline. It is high time to start a feasibility study, since the government is very much optimistic about opening new avenues of international trade. Our relationship with India and China is long lasting. So, there is every possibility of minimising the trade gap. Up to October, 2018, India and China exported to Bangladesh goods worth Tk 64,852 million and Tk 123,525 million against Bangladesh's exports worth Tk 8,094 million and Tk 10,618 million. But, exports to the USA rose. Exports to the USA hit Tk 49,655 million against imports worth Tk 13,055 million.

Moreover, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia are our core trading partners accounting for huge volumes of exports to Bangladesh. We can offer sea transportation facilities to Singapore to promote our relationship. A seaport- dependent economy, Singapore must stand by us for the sake of mutual economic interest. To conclude, for the wider trade gap, the economic impact is noticed to hit all sensitive sectors that are co-related with one another. Bangladesh, of course, has the capacity to enhance trade relations further with the trading partners. The time has come to make our economy self-reliant. With a view to enhancing trade ties, a move can be taken with the help of noted personalities, if the importers do not show much curiosity about linking up with our businesses.

Md Mazadul Hoque is currently serving at Social Islami Bank Ltd.

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