Govt honours 71 exporters
The government yesterday awarded the National Export Trophy to 71 companies in 28 categories in recognition of their extraordinary performance in export earnings in the fiscal year 2019-20.
The major categories are garment, jute, food processing, leather goods, ceramics, electronics, packaging, plastic goods, frozen foods and footwear.
Of the recipients, 28 companies received gold trophies, 25 silver and 17 bronze.
The remaining one, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Export Trophy (Gold), was awarded to Chattogram-based Universal Jeans Ltd for being competent in all criteria.
Tipu Munshi, commerce minister, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, senior commerce secretary, Md Jashim Uddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), and AHM Ahsan, vice-chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), handed over the trophies through a ceremony at InterContinental Dhaka.
It will be possible to export goods worth $300 billion by 2041 if some problems are solved now.
Addressing on behalf of the winners, Syed M Tanvir, managing director of Universal Jeans Ltd, said it is possible to export $100 billion worth of garment items in the next 10 years.
To do so, Bangladesh has to meet 20 per cent of the global demand for cotton-made apparel whereas currently it is 16 per cent, he said.
The same can be possible if Bangladesh meets 12 per cent of the global demand for apparel made from man-made fibres instead of the existing 5 per cent, he said.
This is due to the fact that apparel made from man-made fibres fetch better prices than those made from cotton fibres, he said.
Meanwhile, local exporters will have to face the challenge of the erosion of preferential trade benefits for the country's United Nations status graduation from a least developed to a developing country in 2026, said Tanvir.
The government will have to ensure duty-free market access even in the post-least developed country (LDC) period signing free trade agreements (FTAs), he said.
He also suggested that the government simplify rules over payment of government-sponsored incentives on export receipts.
AK Azad, chairman and chief executive officer of Ha-Meem Group, the mother company of Rifat Garments Ltd, one of the award recipients, said he has been expanding his business despite some difficulties mainly to create employment.
Every year some 30 lakh fresh graduates exit universities. Of them, some 1.20 lakh can manage jobs in government, semi-government or autonomous bodies, he said.
Some 10 lakh young people go abroad every year and most of the rest enter the private sector, he said.
Azad also said with the downward economic trend globally, some garment factories were receiving 10 per cent to 20 per cent lesser work orders nowadays compared to the same period in the previous year for the Russia-Ukraine war.
Apart from the LDC graduation challenges, local apparel exporters will have to ensure that 25 per cent of their products are made from recycled yarn and reduce water consumption in washing and dyeing by 40 per cent after 2026, he said.
But in Bangladesh the current policy does not support import of discarded old clothing for making the recycled yarn and local suppliers cannot provide adequate supplies of such clothes, he added.
Although the rate of energy prices has been doubled, local industrialists are still suffering from a shortage of gas in industries, said Azad.
It will be possible to export goods worth $300 billion by 2041 if some problems are solved now, said Jashim Uddin.
For example, not being provided adequate gas pressure in supply lines even after paying double the price is turning suicidal for industries, he said.
He suggested that the government arrange an inter-ministerial meeting soon to resolve the challenges in the utility services to industries.
The FBCCI chief also demanded that the government reduce source tax to 0.50 per cent from the existing 1 per cent as the current rate has an impact on 20 per cent of the profitability.
A lot of industries are shifting from China and Bangladesh needs to utilise this opportunity, he said.
"It is the duty of all to increase the export earnings of the country. We are honoured…our next target is to increase the volume of export. Bangladesh is a country of huge potentials," said Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, chairman and CEO, Pran-RFL Group.
"There are huge opportunities in different sectors. The sectors will help us to increase the country's export. As a business conglomerate, Pran-RFL has around 145,000 employees. We want to move the country forward increasing our export earnings," he said.
Ghosh assured that the government would ensure preferential market access to local exporters even if it means signing the FTAs with major trading partners.
The government has been working on formulating ways on ensuring bonded warehouse facilities to the non-RMG sectors from the next budget, he said.
The government can change the policy in seven days to allow import of old clothing items for local garment makers to make recycled yarn but they will also have to ensure export of all the imported items, he said.
Currently, some six lakh tonnes of scrap clothing items are produced across the country in a year, he said.
The government has already relaxed rules for availing both import and export certificates and is working on relaxing some other rules to being ease to the process of doing business, Ghosh said.
Munshi said Vietnam has not been performing well in manufacturing garment nowadays and Bangladesh also needs to focus more on export of electronic goods.