Govt stimulus give exports a boost

The country’s export earnings marked a remarkable rise last fiscal year as the government continues to provide facilities like cash incentives to the exporters of non-traditional items.
Export of many products increased in the last 2015-16 fiscal year compared to the previous fiscal thanks to the government’s various initiatives, experts said.
Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data show that in the last fiscal, the country fetched $34.2 billion from exports exceeding the target of $33.5 billion.
In the current 2016-17 fiscal, the export target has been fixed at $37 billion with an eight percent growth.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said the European Union (EU) did not increase the price of Bangladeshi garment products after the Rana Plaza incident.
“If we had got increased price from EU like the other countries, our export earnings could exceed the $40 billion mark,” he added.
In 2015-16 fiscal, export earnings from knitwear increased to $13355.42 million with 7.47 percent growth, woven to $14738.74 million with 12.81 percent growth, engineering products to $510.08 million with 14.10 percent growth, petroleum byproducts to $297.01 million with 282.99 percent growth, cap to $148.70 million with 130.69 percent growth.
In the same fiscal, export of dry food rose to $96.04 million with 1.90 percent growth, spices to $29.06 million with 25.04 percent growth, rubber to $23.53 million with the growth of 16.60 percent, leather products to $388.22 million with 55.81 percent growth, paper and paper products to $42.16 million with 13.03 percent growth, specialised textile to $108.72 million with 1.62 percent growth, furniture to $46.26 million with 18.80 percent growth, jute and jute goods to $919.58 million with 5.88 percent growth and handicrafts to $10.01 million logging 14.79 percent growth.
Additional Commerce Secretary (Export) Zahir Uddin Ahmed told daily sun that the government has been focusing on diversification of export items and exploration of new markets to boost the country’s exports further.
He also said they are targeting $60 billion from exports by 2021 and the RMG sector alone is expected to contribute $50 billion to the export basket. “Achieving the $50 billion target won’t be difficult for the apparel sector though getting the rest $10 billion will be a challenge,” he said.
He said local businesses are participating in international trade fairs, inviting foreign buyers to local trade fairs while the government has been signing bi-lateral trade agreements and free trade agreement (FTA) with many countries, and seeking duty-free, quota-free access to different markets across the world to increase exports.
“But even without duty-free, quota-free access and GSP facility, our export growth to the US is 15 percent. The tariff and non-tariff barriers are not the only factors, and signing FTA with some countries might not be profitable for us but it’s also a way to explore opportunities,“ Zahir Ahmed added.
He said the Business Promotion Council (BPC) under the commerce ministry has been working closely with the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) for developing new export items.
Plastic and leather products have lots of potential due the quality the local businesses are maintaining, he added.
“So we are moving forward with a comprehensive approach so that the overall export volume can be increased significantly,” the additional secretary said.
EPB Vice-Chairman Mafruha Sultana told daily sun that the government is providing export subsidy or cash incentive on some 15 products for their survival in the competitive market.
The subsidised products include textile, agro products, bone powder, light engineering, meat, frozen shrimp and other species of fish, leather goods, potato and jute goods.
“We once exported raw leather, but we don’t do it now as the quality of our leather products has improved a lot. Central effluent treatment plant (CETP) is being set up to minimise pollution caused by leather units. Setting up of CETP is underway in the new tannery estate in Savar. Environmental issues are very vital to the foreign buyers so an environment-friendly manufacturing system is a must for the leather sector,” Mafruha added.
“The total value chain of leather is under our control, we are doing better in footwear. New jobs are being generated in this sector,“ she added.
“Currently, the government is providing subsidy or cash incentive on 15 export items. This stimulus is offered at different stages for different items,“ Mafruha added.
“According to the export policy guideline, we will have to diversify both our products and export markets between 2015 and 2018,” she said.
“Tariff in the Russian market is very high so our products are not competitive in that particular market. Sometime we try to reach markets through the regional alliances or based on bilateral agreement, which in particular have been very helpful for us. We also attend trade fairs in many countries. We mainly participate in sourcing fairs as it often creates the scopes for bulk exports,“ the EPB Vice-Chairman said.
Mentioning that Bangladesh has recently participated in the OIC Trade Fair in Saudi Arabia, she said it is high time Bangladesh makes a stronger presence in the Saudi market as the market is gradually being expanded.
“Saudi Arab consumes at least 70 percent of the export goods to the Middle East, if we can grab Saudi market, it will be easier for us to enter other Gulf markets,” she added.