Allaying the apprehension that Bangladesh will finally be a ‘loser’ as a developing country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said the country would be able to avail of much more alternative facilities under WTO rules.
“Many people, perhaps, have a doubt that we’ll be deprived of many facilities as a developing country. But we’ll be able to avail of much more facilities than what we would be deprived of. It would be a big deal (scope) for us,” she said.
She opened the eye-catching exhibition centre virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban, reports UNB.
The centre equipped with modern facilities is a permanent venue for different product-based fairs round the year. It was built by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) under a project jointly financed by Bangladesh and China.
Hasina said Bangladesh is now a developing country. “We’ll be able to avail of the alternative facilities which are available for a developing country under the rules and guidelines of the WTO. So, I think there would be no big problem here.”
“We’ll get much more scope to expand our exports and investment in the country,” she said.
The Prime Minister urged the business community to produce quality products, diversify goods, expand the export basket and explore new export markets in order to sustain in the competition of the fast-changing global market.
“It’s possible to diversify the country’s export products,” the Prime Minister said, adding that Bangladesh has a great scope to boost export earnings by developing different industries, including digital devices, jute and jute-processed goods and light engineering.
“Now we’re producing ICT or digital devices. This sector now can attract investment. I think we’ve a big scope to make the digital devices as the major export product in the future,” she said.
About environment-friendly jute and jute goods, she stressed the need for the development of new export products from jutes through researches as people are now much conscious about the environment.
Hasina also asked the manufacturers and exporters of readymade garments, knitwear and textiles, leather, ceramic products, frozen goods, raw and processed fish, light engineering, vegetables, fruits, pharmaceuticals goods, and the products of small cottage industries to explore new markets and assess the demand of products.
She said her government will create scopes for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to invest in foreign countries as well so that they can produce goods and create a market for their items there. “We’re taking preparations for that. We can attract investment and simultaneously we can make investment in other countries as we’ve graduated as a developing country now,” she said.
The PM directed the Commerce Ministry to play a stronger role to this end. “We want to create scope so that our industrialists can make investments not only in our own country but also foreign countries to produce and market the products there (in foreign countries).”
She asked all, including the business community, the Commerce Ministry and the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) to expand the country’s export by exploring new markets, diversifying products and producing export items considering the demands of specific markets.
Hasina urged the business community engaged in all the industrial sectors to take preparations and take initiatives to produce quality products and diversify their export goods. “You’ll get all sorts of support from the government.”
She said the government is building 100 economic zones across the country and creating all facilities for local, international and joint investors there.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh has successfully retained the pace of business activities during the Covid-19 period though the global economy got stagnant due to the pandemic.
She said Bangladesh has been able to achieve 14.12 export growth and export earnings of US$ 45.37 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year. “It’s going to be a big achievement during the pandemic.”
About the modern exhibition centre, she said the Commerce Ministry, EPB, exporters and businessmen to ensure the optimum utilization of this centre by arranging fairs of all the products and services, conferences of exporters and gathering of buyers and sellers and other business promotion activities there.
“This centre would be a good source of income for the Commerce Ministry as well,” said the Prime Minister.
The ambitious exhibition centre project, jointly financed by Dhaka and Beijing, was undertaken by the EPB.
The construction of the modern structure on a 20-acre land in the Purbachal New City Project Area was carried out by China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) at a cost of Tk 1,303.50 crore.
The exhibition centre has 33,000 sq metres of floor space, including an exhibition hall covering 15,418 sq meters.
The spectacular centre has its own water treatment plant, CCTV control room, Wi-Fi system, a modern fountain, and remote-controlled entrance gate.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi chaired the virtual event, while senior officials of the government joined it physically from the exhibition centre.
The Commerce Minister said that Dhaka International Trade Fair 2022 will be inaugurated at the exhibition centre on January 1, 2022.
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming and Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh spoke at the function, while EPB vice chairman and CEO AHM Ahsan delivered the welcome speech.