Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has called upon the Japanese government to extend the zero-duty benefit for Bangladesh exports to Japan for at least five more years after the country graduates from the least developed countries (LDC) status.
Citing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy of Bangladesh, Tipu Munshi made the call to the Japanese government during a meeting with Naoki Ito, ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, at his ministry office today, according to a statement from the commerce ministry.
As per the assessment of the UN Committee on Development Policy (UN CDP), Bangladesh is scheduled to graduate to a developing country in 2024.
Following graduation from LDC status to a developing country, Bangladesh will lose its preferential trade benefits to all countries, including Japan.
As a result, the local exporters will have to face duty on export, reducing Bangladesh's competitiveness in the global business.
Bangladesh has been enjoying the zero-duty benefit to Japanese markets as an LDC. As a result, Japan turned into a major export destination for Bangladeshi garment items and leather goods.
During the meeting, Ambassador Naoki Ito told the commerce minister that Japan has been planning to set up automobile industries in Bangladesh.
Tipu Munshi also urged the ambassador to bring more Japanese investment in the Japanese economic zone set up in Araihazar of Narayanganj.
Saying that Japan is the first Asian country where Bangladesh's exports reached the one-billion-dollar mark in 2012, the minister suggested the signing of either Free Trade Agreement or Preferential Trade Agreement between the two countries for further trade.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, Bangladesh exported goods worth 1.20 billion USD to Japan while import from Japan was worth 1.29 billion USD, according to data from the commerce ministry.