'Bangladesh should negotiate at WTO for duty privilege extension'
Bangladesh should negotiate in the upcoming 12th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC-12) for the extension of the duty privilege after graduation from the list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in 2026, a noted economist said today.
If the duty privilege is awarded even for six years or nine years to Bangladesh after graduation to a developing country, it is still good for the country, said Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
Rahman, however, also said the country needs to compete in a regime of the open market without depending on market access facility as Bangladesh is graduating and duty facility will not continue forever for Bangladesh after the graduation.
The country needs to think beyond LDC graduation and duty facilities, he said in his virtual keynote presentation at a virtual dialogue on Bangladesh's expectations and achievement from MC12, scheduled to be held in Geneva between November 30 and December 3
For instance, the continuation of policy support, subsidies in fisheries and negotiation with major trading partners for continuing the duty facility even after graduation.
Rahman said China has been continuing the duty facility to Samoa even after graduation. Similarly, India has been given the same advantage even after graduation.
Bangladesh's major trading partners are China, India and Canada and there is a scope for Bangladesh to seek continuation of duty facility even after the graduation to those major trading partners so that the country's export business continues to grow after the graduation, he said.
The rules-based trade facility under the WTO should be in place for the graduating LDCs and it should be on the agenda, Rahman said.
Bangladesh should also focus the negotiation on how to be competitive after 2026 and 2029 facing 11 per cent to 12 per cent duty on exportable goods, he said.
Some other issues like the formation of graduate support fund and how to support the small farmers should also be focused in the negotiation, Rahman continued.
The mingling of three important issues -- trade, investment and transport under the regional connectivity -- can play a very vital role in flourishing trade. For instance, China import $2,800 billion worth of goods in a year and less than $1billion from Bangladesh, he said.
Similarly, India imports goods worth $450 billion worth of goods in a year and from Bangladesh it imports only $1.2 billion worth of goods, Rahman said.
Bangladesh should also look for a regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) like Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) so that business grows after graduation, Rahman said.
Apex Group Chairman Syed Manzur Elahi, treasurer of the CPD Board of Trustees and also a former advisor to the Caretaker Government, moderated the dialogue with CPD Chairman Rehman Sobhan in the chair.