Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday handed over the national export trophies to owners of 63 companies for their extraordinary export performance in 2014-15.
The awards were given in 28 categories, including garment, yarn, textile fabrics, home textile, terry towel, frozen foods, raw jute, jute goods, finished leather, leather goods, footwear, agricultural products and agro-processed products.
“We will also award the exporters of the factories housed inside the export processing zones from next year,” Ahmed said at the ceremony held at the capital's Osmani Memorial Auditorium.
The ICT, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, plastic and jute will get priority in the next export policy of the government, he said.
The award will inspire exporters to do better in the coming years, said Bijoy Bhattacharjee, vice-chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau.
He said the global trading landscape has changed a lot over the last few years.
“There are both challenges and opportunities in trade in the near future. We need to keep ourselves informed on how to tap into the business opportunities.”
The distribution of the awards is delayed due to procedural problems, Bhattacharjee said.
“First, the applications are called and then all those are assessed. This takes a lot of time. Finally, approval from the government is needed, which is also time-consuming. This is why the awards cannot be distributed timely.”
Apart from the export volumes of the companies, compliance issues related to tax payment and environment sustainability were considered while selecting the awardees.
Product diversification and new market exploration were also considered during the assessment of the applications for the awards, Bhattacharjee added.
In 2014-15, the country's overall export earnings grew 3.35 percent year-on-year to $31.2 billion. However, the amount was well below the year's target of $33.2 billion.
At the event, 29 gold, 20 silver and 14 bronze trophies were given out.
“We have received the highest export trophy for the ninth consecutive years. Definitely, it gives us the motivation to do better,” said Shahidullah Chowdhury, chief executive officer of Noman Group.
Zaber & Zubair Fabrics, a concern of Noman Group, received the gold trophy for logging in the highest export earnings: it exported specialised home textiles and textiles worth $207.78 million.
Ahmed said the export target for 2018-19 will be set within the next one week.
Last fiscal year, Bangladesh exported 772 different kinds of goods worth $36.66 billion to 199 countries.
At the award giving ceremony, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said not all banks have lowered their interest rates to single digits.
He said Bangladesh's garment makers could have shipped $2 billion more apparel items were there no delays in the release of samples from the airport.
In the just concluded fiscal year, garment shipments fetched $30.66 billion.
Mohiuddin also urged the government to expedite the activities of the Chittagong port and the customs department for becoming more competitive in global trade.
“We need predictable business policies as frequent changes in policies hamper our business,” he said.
The government officials should also have the knowledge on the changing business patterns of the world for rendering better services, he said.
Shubhashish Bose, commerce secretary, and Tajul Islam Chowdhury, chairman of the standing committee on the ministry of commerce, also spoke.