They mentioned that Bangladesh should focus on the Chinese, Indian, and ASEAN markets
Experts at a webinar on Monday called for boosting trade facilitation and reduction of customs tariffs and supplementary duties to turn Bangladesh into a regional transit and an investment hub.
They mentioned that Bangladesh should focus on the Chinese, Indian, and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets.
The country should also promote the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) initiative to promote connectivity and immediately ratify the Transports Internationaux Routiers (TIR) convention, they observed.
They made the observations at the webinar on “Ease of doing business: Status of 2021,” organized by the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI).
Md Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) was present at the webinar as a guest of honour.
Jibon Krishna Saha Roy, director of One-Stop Service and Regulatory Reform at BIDA, presented the keynote paper at the webinar.
Ambassador M Humayun Kabir, president of the BEI, gave the welcome speech.
At the webinar, speakers also mentioned that Bangladesh can take the benefits of the TIR convention only with internal reforms and readiness to serve the region as a trading hub such as the Netherlands, Singapore, or Dubai.
They opined that the World Bank’s Doing Business report is not intended as a complete assessment of competitiveness or the business environment of a country and should rather be considered as a proxy of the regulatory framework faced by the private sector in a country.
In this globalized world, trade finance (TF) is an essential tool to enable the trade of goods — and increasingly services — allowing local firms and value chains to sell to global markets, the speakers said.
Up to 80% of trade is financed by some form of credit, guarantee or insurance, they added.
Sirazul Islam said Bangladesh could rise to double-digit rankings in the World Bank’s doing business index, but it is not easy.
“Unless the traders talk about improving the business situation, the World Bank will not give any points. Businesses are not aware of the World Bank’s sub-indicators,” he said.
Bangladesh must allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the logistics sector by amending the relevant laws and policies, speakers said.
Humayun Rashid, president of IBFB and managing director and CEO of Energypac Power Generation, chaired the webinar.
He said some sectoral businesses need 28 licences to start a business.
“If the application for each licence has been lying in the office for one month, then it will take 28 months. Who will come to do business in such a situation?”
MS Siddiqui, legal economist and vice president of IBFB; Muhammad Abdul Mazid, former secretary and ex-chairman of NBR and chairman of the Finance Committee of IBFB, and AFM Matiur Rahman, former secretary and vice-chairman of the Industry Leadership Committee of IBFB, spoke as designated discussants at the webinar.