Bangladesh needs effective strategy for GSP+ scheme

Staff Correspondent

9 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh needs to have a cohesive, dynamic and inclusive transition strategy for the GSP+ scheme after graduating from LDC to a developing country, speakers said at a webinar.

They made this remark while speaking at a webinar on "LDC Graduation of Bangladesh: Are We Ready for GSP+?" organised by the Bangladesh-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI) on Wednesday.

BGCCI President Omar Sadat urged everyone to work together from individual place, including the government, the think tanks and the industry.

"We have to come together and move forward; otherwise we will be in a difficult situation in five years’ time," he added.    

BGCCI president also recommended improving overall capability of the economy, implementing 27th International Convention, becoming an active partner of regional and sub-regional initiatives, targeting high rate borrowing and negotiating with trade partners on concession.   

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Distinguish Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya as keynote speaker stated that there are few criteria need to fulfill the eligibility for GSP+. 

The first one is vulnerability criteria, under which Bangladesh is eligible, it accounts more than 75 percent GSP covered imports whereas Bangladesh covers 96 percent, he said, adding, the second is import criteria which says one country should not be exporting more than 7.4 percent of the total imports into the EU, for Bangladesh the comparable figure is 26 percent.  

"Therefore, we are not eligible under the current circumstances," said Dr Debapriya.

He also emphasised the need for meeting the important criteria area and said it is possible to resolve.

The knit garments are doing well in double transformation but the woven garments will be in a challenging position, he added. 

Apart from the technical part, the other important criteria for achieving GSP+ are sustainability and good governance.

Speaking as the guest of honour, Ambassador Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that Bangladesh will be graduated in 2026 and will continue to get duty-free access in the EU market till 2029.

"After that we have to face on an average 8.7 percent duty on our exports. As such, the continuation of tariff preference after LDC graduation is very essential especially in the EU market for our export growth," he added.

He also recommended signing and implementing free trade agreements (FTA) with several countries while expressing dissatisfaction as the commerce ministry had signed just one FTA in the last 18 years.

Policy Research Institute (PRI) Executive Director Dr Ahsan H Mansur said that compliance with labour and environment issues is needed to secure GSP plus in EU.

He also stated that, persuasive diplomatic initiatives along with substantive changes in some global conventions will be other important areas for securing the GSP plus scheme.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President- elect Faruque Hassan said that some 61 percent of readymade garment exports to the EU market would come under new tariffs after the LDC graduation.

He also recommended formulating mid-term strategy to maintain competitiveness and stressed on strategy, capacity building, and diplomatic engagement with the EU to seek an extension of the Everything but Arms (EBA) deal for 10 more years on grounds of exports and employment.

Director General of World Trade Organisation Cell under the Commerce Ministry Md Hafizur Rahman, Managing Director, Walton Golam Murshed and eminent personalities from both Bangladesh and Germany, among others, also spoke at the meeting.