The commerce ministry and the Export Promotion Bureau yesterday awarded the top exporters of fiscal 2011-12 and 2012-13 in recognition of their superlative performance.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over the trophies and certificates to the exporters at Osmani Memorial Hall in Dhaka.
The awards were given in 32 categories following the national export trophy-2013 guidelines, said Mafruha Sultana, vice-chairman of EPB, in her speech.
The companies' export earnings, export growth, export basket, access to new markets and compliance issues were considered for the selection of the awardees, she said.
For fiscal 2011-12, 24 gold, 18 silver and nine bronze trophies were handed out.
For the following year, 26 gold, 19 silver and 15 bronze trophies were given.
The government also awarded a separate gold trophy to the highest exporter under the goods categories for each of the two years.
Zaber & Zubair Fabric Ltd, a home textile and fabrics maker, bagged the gold trophy for highest export for both the fiscal years, while Pran Group got six best national export trophies for playing a vital role in the segment.
The company achieved the trophies for fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13.
In her speech, Hasina urged businesspeople to explore new export destinations and new products to reduce overdependence on garments and a few markets.
Had the global recession not taken place in 2008-09 and the euro not gone through devaluation, Bangladesh would have earned more from exports, Hasina said.
As a measure of inspiration, the government paid Tk 21,000 crore as cash incentives to businessmen against their export receipts during the tenure of her government over the last seven years.
For example, the government paid Tk 4,000 crore as cash incentive to exporters last fiscal year.
The prime minister also recommended the businessmen set up more labour intensive industrial units so that more young people can be employed in those factories.
“Seventy three percent of the total population of Bangladesh is young. This is a big workforce. We should exploit the opportunity of young workforce.” Hasina said the garment makers are showing laxity in setting up factories at the Bausia Garment Palli, the under construction garment village in Munshiganj district, although a Chinese company has been developing the site.
Previously, the industrialists set up factories at random without finding out the availability of gas and power.
“This is why the government has been working to develop 100 special economic zones across the country with gas and power connections, so that the industrialists cannot set up factories haphazardly.”
The prime minister urged the businessmen to export more agricultural products and agro-processed foods as they have more value-addition for the country.
On the growth of regional trade, Hasina said Bangladesh's regional trade will soar once the four-nation Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal transit agreement comes to force.
Bangladesh will be able to reach the export target of $60 billion by 2021, of which $50 billion will be contributed by the garment sector, Hasina added.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said Bangladesh has diversified both the export markets and products to reduce dependence on garment products and the limited number of export destinations.
Square Pharmaceuticals wants to set up factory in Kenya and Beximco Pharma in Saudi Arabia. “Such initiatives indicate the country's strength in pharmaceuticals.”
The minister said the government will increase the rate of cash incentives for export to new destinations. All markets except the US, the EU and Canada are considered new destinations by Bangladesh.
The government should give awards to different trade bodies like Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association for their contributions to the growth of business, said Abdul Matlub Ahmad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
“We want the world centre in Dhaka soon,” he said.
Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, senior secretary to the commerce ministry, and Tajul Islam Choudhury, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the commerce ministry, also spoke.