THE Dhaka International Trade Fair is an annual showcase for Bangladeshi products and exportable goods. However, this year saw only a marginal presence of locally manufactured products, which actually defeated the main purpose of the fair. This poor turn-up of prospective foreign buyers resulted in generating business volume roughly 50 per cent less than the preceding year, with export contracts down to Tk804 million compared to Tk1.57 billion last year. It is not only that the fair organisers were confused about the purpose of the exposition. Not only were there instances of lower grade products finding a foothold in the fair, many local products did not get space due to financial constraints.
It is also crucial that we start diversifying our markets, especially when zero-tariff barriers exist in the Asian region. With the government eying an export market worth some US$50 billion per annum over the next five years, time has arrived to take more proactive measures in finding ways to generate interest in our products internationally. However, unless the ground rules change with regards to political players holding the economy hostage when engaging in agitation, little can be achieved in bettering our prospects as a stable country to do business with. The search for markets will have little impact if we cannot break out of the vicious mindset of grinding to a halt all economic activity every time the political scene heats up.