Graduation from the Least Developed Country status can usher new opportunities for Bangladesh through increased focus on enhancing productive capacity, improved credit rating and better business climate, experts said at a webinar held recently.
At the same time, they emphasized on continuous dialogue between different stakeholders including government, private sector and academia to address the opportunities and challenges of graduation.
Their observations came at a webinar organized on ‘Trade-related challenges of LDC graduation under changed circumstances due to COVID-19 pandemic: Way Forward’ on 14 July 2020.
The webinar was jointly organized by the Ministry of Commerce and the Support to Sustainable Graduation Project (SSGP) of the Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance.
Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Dr. Md. Jafar Uddin attended the workshop as the Chief Guest while Secretary of the Economic Relations Division Ms. Fatima Yasmin was present as the Special Guest. Former ERD Secretary and National Project Manager of SSGP Mr. Monowar Ahmed chaired and moderated the virtual workshop.
The main objectives of the workshop were to:
- understand the process and government preparedness for graduation from the LDC status;
- consult with key stakeholders regarding trade-related challenges of graduation keeping in view the worldwide economic slow-down due to COVID-19 pandemic; and
- identify policy options and way forward against loss of trade-related benefits and ensure smooth and sustainable graduation.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Dr. Md. Jafar Uddin opined that apart from retaining the preferential market access, the country also needs to make some of the domestic support measures WTO compliant during the transition period.
He also emphasized on revisiting the existing subsidies provisions– particularly the cash incentive supports and some of the laws and policies related to intellectual property rights.
Secretary of the Economic Relations Division Ms. Fatima Yasmin, in her speech, noted that Bangladesh is currently at the doorstep of graduation due to the remarkable economic progress achieved under the able leadership of the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Ms. Yasmin assured that the government has taken all initiatives for preparing for the upcoming Triennial Review of CDP in February 2021 and expressed her optimistic view that Bangladesh will be recommended for graduation.
She also emphasized the need for formulating an effective transition strategy– taking into account the impacts of COVID-19 to ensure the smooth and sustainable graduation of the country.
She also underlined the need for pursuing International Support Measures for an extended period of time after graduation to ensure a smooth transition.
Former ERD Secretary and National Project Manager of SSGP Mr. Monowar Ahmed, in his speech, noted that the Government of Bangladesh, under the prudent leadership of the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, is aiming to complete the graduation process in a timely manner.
Against this backdrop, he emphasized stronger collaboration between various relevant government agencies including the Ministry of Commerce, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the private sector bodies.
Project Director of SSGP and Joint Secretary & Wing Chief of the DE Wing of ERD Mr. Farid Aziz said that SSGP is ready to work in close collaboration with all the relevant stakeholders including the private sector and also ready to provide necessary technical and research support in ensuring smooth graduation of the country.
Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Ms. Sharifa Khan delivered a keynote presentation on TRIPS Transition Period and Graduation Challenges for Bangladesh. Component Manager of SSGP and Joint Secretary Mr. Anwar Hossain delivered a keynote presentation on LDC Graduation Process and Initiatives of the Government. Member of Bangladesh Trade & Tariff Commission Dr. Mostafa Abid Khan delivered a keynote presentation on Trade Related Challenges of Graduation and COVID-19 Pandemic.
Vice President of BGMEA Mr. Arshad Jamal, Senior Vice President of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries Mr. Abdul Muktadir and Director of BGMEA Mohammad Abdul Momen spoke during the webinar.
Stakeholders and representatives from all the major public and private entities attended the workshop.