Bangladesh’s exports to Asian markets still low

Trade barriers, lack of trade agreements blamed

Sohel Hossain Patwary

7 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Although Bangladesh has achieved significant growth in exports to the key markets in the UK and the US, the export volume to Asian countries is still very low.

Despite having huge regional trade potential, exports to the Asian nation is dull due to regional trade barriers, the absence of preferential trade agreements and bilateral arrangements.

Bangladesh’s exports are still highly reliant on EU and US markets with around 80 per cent export earnings generated by those markets.

Exporters and trade experts said Bangladesh can boost exports to Asian potential countries by removing trade barriers.

According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, shipments from Bangladesh to its major Asian markets—India, China and Japan— remain around $1 billion each.

In 2019-20 fiscal year, Bangladesh shipped goods and products worth around $1.09 billion to India, $1.2 billion to Japan and only $600 million to China.

Export income from China, one of the world’s largest economies, is very nominal and it is believed that Bangladesh can increase the figure.

According to EPB half-yearly data, export earnings from these giant nations are not that much satisfactory.

Bangladesh fetched only $327 million from China during the July-December period while it bagged $568 million from Japan and $655 million from India during the period.

Economist Dr ABM Mirza Azizul Islam thinks that Asia holds on to its top spot as the world’s fastest-growing region where 60 per cent of the total global population live.

With the facts, Bangladesh has huge potential in exploring the Asian market with the present growth in terms of export earnings globally, he added.

Dr Aziz suggested removing trade barriers, easing tariff and non-tariff facilities and signing of bilateral agreements and improving product diversification to attain the expected growth.             

Exporters said Bangladesh has huge trade and business with India and China. But the trade gap still higher with these two countries.

Last year, the Chinese government has granted duty-free access to 97 per cent Bangladeshi products to its market. The facilities allow 5,161 more Bangladeshi products to enjoy zero-tariff treatment in the Chinese market.

Besides, Bangladeshi exporters also enjoy Duty-Free and Quota Free (DFQF) market access for 100 per cent tariff lines to India.

Now Bangladesh should focus on more injection of its products and goods to these nations, trade experts suggesting to emphasize bilateral preferential trade agreement (PTA).

Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA) Director Fazlee Shamim Ehsan said Bangladeshi exporters are still focused on the EU and US market which is very good. With that, Bangladeshi exporters can boost Asian markets as well.

“Bangladesh has huge bilateral trade with the big Asian nations like India, China, and Japan. It is possible to explore these markets with innovative products,” said Fazlee Shamim adding both the government and private sector have to work together to boost exports to the Asian market.

 


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