Bangladesh yesterday signed a $150 million financing agreement with World Bank to modernise trade related infrastructure, systems and procedures.
The government will set up a National Single Window, which will allow traders to submit all import, export and transit information required by customs and other key regulatory agencies via a single electronic gateway under a WB-financed project.
“This will facilitate faster and more transparent international trade procedures and reduce transaction time and cost for the private sector,” said a WB statement.
These improvements will help Bangladesh strengthen regional connectivity and boost trade with India, Bhutan and Nepal, according to the WB.
With the loan, four land ports -- Bhomra, Sheola, Ramgarh and Benapole -- will be developed and improved under Bangladesh Regional Connectivity Project 1, the statement said.
The WB said these land ports were key to facilitating regional and transit trade, especially with India. These improvements would help Bangladesh increase trade and freight volumes and reduce truck clearance time at border posts.
Truck clearance time at the Bhomra land port will be reduced by 83 percent, from 72 hours to 12 hours.
Kazi Shofiqul Azam, secretary of the Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Qimiao Fan, WB country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, signed the agreement at the ERD.
The credit is from International Development Association, WB's concessional lending arm. The loan is interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a six-year grace period, and carries a service charge of 0.75 percent.
“Bangladesh has enormous potential for increasing trade with its neighbours, particularly India. Currently, its trade with India is only less than half of its current potential,” said Fan.
“By addressing the key barriers to trade, especially transport and clearance delays, Bangladesh can become more competitive regionally and globally, and reach more emerging and dynamic markets with diversified product mix, including higher-value garments.”
Azam said: “Bangladesh has doubled its market share in global exports between 1995 and 2012, and more than doubled the value of shipment in the last five years. But the potential is much higher.”
Geographically, Bangladesh can play an important role in regional trade and logistics networks, and as a transit country in South Asia. The project will help Bangladesh take advantage of its strategic location in increasing exports and lower import costs, he said.
The WB said the project would pilot activities to help remove bottlenecks faced by women in trade and business.