Get policy right to develop non-apparel sectors
Economy Desk
January 14, 2020, 11:40 pm

DOT Desk: Leather and footwear, plastics and light engineering have been identified as the potential sectors, which can help diversify the country’s export basket, reports The Financial Express.
The sectors will also create greater access to the international markets for local products, according to a new report launched on Sunday. The report highlighted the need for diversifying Bangladesh’s export basket in order to sustain accelerated economic growth, increase investment opportunities, and create more jobs, particularly for women.
The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank launched the diagnostic report titled “Building Competitive Sectors for Export Diversification: Opportunities and Policy Priorities for Bangladesh” at a program, jointly organized by the IFC and Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh in Dhaka.
Prime Minister’s economic affairs adviser Dr. Mashiur Rahman was present as the chief guest at the launching event, chaired by PRI chairman Dr. Zaidi Sattar.
“Bangladesh’s economy is moving forward at a stable pace,” Dr. Rahman said. “The government has launched a concerted effort to diversify its exports and we sincerely hope this pioneering publication will help inform the policy discourse on sustainable export-led growth,” he added.

Dr. Rahman, however, recommended reviewing the government’s cash incentive program, saying that ‘golpata’ and bricks exporters are receiving a high percentage of cash support and they are destroying the Sundarbans and agricultural land respectively.

Commerce secretary Dr. Mohammad Jafar Uddin said export is one pathway to leveraging the dynamic potentials of the global economy.

“We strongly believe that trade is a powerful engine of growth, not just for the world economy, but very much so for the developing economy of Bangladesh,” he said.

To sustain the growth trajectory and reduce overdependence on any single item, IFC country manager Wendy Werner said Bangladesh needs to build a strong manufacturing ecosystem and develop new products while paving the way for large-scale job creation and poverty reduction.

Bangladesh has a “serious problem” with export concentration as the bulk of export income comes from the readymade garment sector, said PRI executive director Ahsan H Mansur.

He underlined the need for diversifying of both products and markets.

Echoing Mr. Mansur, Dr. Sattar suggested selecting potential sectors and the development of the right policy to increase export earnings of non-apparel products.

He warned that most new products introduced by exporters were not sustained beyond the first year.

He, however, stressed the need for addressing export sustainability on a priority basis as it is a critical challenge for maintaining diversification.

The report identified the lack of environmental and social compliance, poor handling of raw materials, the shortage of skilled workforce, the delay in relocating tanneries, poor access to finance, technological constraints, limited availability of accessories and components, and limited product and markets as the major constraints on the leather sector.

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