Bangladesh might introduce direct flights between Dhaka and Manila to enhance connectivity between the two countries and increase trade with the Philippines, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday.
The Philippines is a very promising trading partner for Bangladesh, but many people do not know of the potential for poor connectivity between the two countries, he said, adding that he will discuss the issue of launching direct flights between the two capitals with the civil aviation minister.
Ahmed's comments came at the installation ceremony of the Bangladesh-Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BPCCI) at the headquarters of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The minister also said export earnings this year might miss its target of $33.20 billion due to the ongoing political turmoil.
“People did not expect such a situation in the country,” he said, adding that the impact of the political upheaval is yet to be felt as production has not halted in factories and supply chain has gone on as usual. But the impact might be noticed three or four months from now, he said.
Regarding the export of apparel items, the minister said international retailers are putting in more work orders after the clean slate given by Accord and Alliance upon completion of preliminary inspection of more than 2,500 garment factories.
The inspection agencies found that more than 98 percent of the garment factories in the country are safe.
BPCCI President Rashed Maksud Khan said the government has rightly undertaken the policy of regional cooperation with the countries in Asia, particularly in South and South-East Asia.
Following the regional policy, Ahmed in June last year met with the commerce minister of the Philippines and formed the Joint Economic Commission between the two countries, Khan said.
Bangladesh and the Philippines had signed a trade agreement in 1980. The first meeting of Joint Trade Committee was held in September 1989 and the second meeting in Manila in July 1997.
There is great potential for Bangladeshi readymade garments, ceramics, jute products and pharmaceuticals to be exported to the Philippines, he said.
At present, the balance of bilateral trade is in favour of the Philippines. In fiscal 2013-14, Bangladesh imported goods worth $78.22 million from the Philippines and exported goods worth $19.32 million, according to data from Export Promotion Bureau.