Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday inaugurated the Dhaka International Trade Fair, announcing leather as the “product of the year” for 2017.
Hasina asked authorities to take steps to provide necessary cooperation and incentives to boost the leather sector and help explore its potential.
Leather exports have increased about 71 times over the last four decades and Bangladesh produces leather goods for top global brands.
Hasina urged the businesses and exporters to stay updated on the changing regime of global trade. WTO rules are making the global trade more liberal, Hasina said.
"So, Bangladeshi products should maintain global standards to sustain in the world market."
The premier also distributed the National Export Trophy for fiscal 2013-14 at the inauguration of the trade fair, at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
She distributed 28 gold, 22 silver and 15 bronze medals among the exporters for their success in exports during fiscal 2013-14. The commerce ministry and Bangladesh Export Promotion Bureau have been organising the fair for 22 consecutive years.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce Ministry and Chief Whip of the opposition party in parliament Tajul Islam Chowdhury attended the function as special guests.
Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry Hedayet Ullah Al Mamun and President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers and Commerce and Industry Abdul Matlub Ahmad also spoke.
She urged the entrepreneurs to come forward with innovative ideas, knowledge and qualitative strategy to diversify their products of global demand.
"You have to explore markets for commodities in parts of the world and produce those items according to their needs."
Hasina said her government was providing 2 percent to 20 percent cash incentives for export and a fund of $2 billion has been created to support the garment and plastic goods sectors.
"The National Export Trophy is being awarded every year to encourage the exporters. Land has been allocated for the proposed international-standard convention centre in the new Purbachal town. The centre will open by 2019."
Hasina said the online system has been introduced for the registration of joint stock companies and the EPB is issuing certificates digitally in an effort to make business and exports easier.
"Smart Office Management has been introduced to the Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports and import certificates are being issued within two days.”
Bangladesh has ratified the WTO's trade facilitation agreement to expedite trade with foreign countries, she said.
She said her government has attached utmost importance to the private sector to promote trade and investment in the country.
"The private sector has emerged as the main driving force of the country's economy. But this sector has a big responsibility for expediting the pace of development,” she added.
The private sector has to work for the development of the people of the country taking the opportunities provided by the government, the premier said.
The industries should not solely aim at exporting goods, she said. “Local markets must be created for goods as well."
Steps have been taken for establishing communications among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal while the BCIM corridor will link Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar to expand their trade and businesses, Hasina said.
She urged the FBCCI to open a cell to find out demands of the people in different countries, the global quality specification and help the local industries to produce goods accordingly.
"Exporters should not run after few countries for GSP facilities. Better you should find markets in another place."
Bangladesh is looking for accelerating its present 7.11 percent growth, she said.
Bangladesh's per capita income is more than $1,466 and in the coming days it will increase, according to Hasina.
Last year's export volume, despite global meltdown, was $34.24 billion which was $10.5 billion in 2005-06, she added.
Hasina said she strongly believes that Bangladesh would emerge as a middle-income country on the world economic map by 2021 based on a solid foundation made by private public partnership.