The government yesterday set $39 billion as the merchandise export target for the current fiscal year, which is 6.36 percent higher than the immediate past fiscal year's achievement of $36.66 billion.
Making the announcement at his secretariat office in Dhaka, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said, this year the target has again been fixed considering a higher shipment of garments, which typically contributes over 82 percent to national exports in a year.
The export target in the garment sector has been fixed at $32.68 billion, up 6.78 percent from last fiscal year's achievement of $30.61 billion.
Of the amount, $16.15 billion has been targeted to be gained from knitwear export, up 6.33 percent from that last year, and $16.53 billion from woven items, 7.21 percent higher from that last year, Ahmed said.
The export target will be boosted mainly for two reasons -- fiscal stimulus for the new markets and higher cash incentive benefits and market diversification, he said.
In the current year, the government hiked the cash incentive for garment exporters in the new markets from 3 to 4 percent. Bangladesh considers the United States, the European Union and Canada as traditional markets while all the rest as new.
“We do not see any challenge in achieving the set target, although it is an election year for the country,” Ahmed said, adding that Bangladesh has been performing strongly in overseas trade defying all the challenges.
He said Bangladesh's garment export has been growing every year even after facing the challenges of inspections by the Accord and Alliance, two foreign building inspection and remediation agencies.
Until last fiscal year, the government gave cash incentive on exports in 27 sectors, but the areas of stimulus package on export have been expanded to 36 this year for diversifying both markets and products.
Among the new nine sectors which have been included for cash incentives are pharmaceuticals (10 percent), leather goods (15 percent), jute and jute goods (7 percent and 12 percent), ceramics (10 percent), caps (10 percent), razors (10 percent), frozen crab (10 percent), CI sheet (10 percent), battery (10 percent), motorcycle (10 percent), caustic soda (10 percent) and IT (10 percent).
Regarding the anti-dumping duty on jute export to India, the minister said he would discuss the issue with his counterpart during his visit to Bangladesh either at the end of this month or early next month.
“We have improved the situation of Chittagong port significantly so that export and import activities get impetus,” he said. The minister hoped that exports to the major markets like the EU, the US and Canada would continue to grow this year too.
The minister also set a target for services export at $5 billion, which is 7.43 percent higher than last year's achievement of $4.28 billion. So the total export value is $44 billion, including the $39 billion merchandise and $5 billion services export, the minister said.
With the higher cash incentives in place, garment export to some new destinations like India, China, Japan and Australia grew a lot this year, said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
“We can hardly explore the Russian market, another potential new destination for us. The government should work with us on how to reduce the over 40 percent duty on garment export to Russia from Bangladesh,” Rahman said.
Calling for improving infrastructure, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the export and import activities were being affected due to mismanagement at the Dhaka airport and Chittagong sea port.
“The export and import goods are left under the open sky at the airport in Dhaka, incidents of theft of goods at the cargo village at the airport in Dhaka are rampant,” Mohiuddin said. “The commercial councillors assigned in different missions abroad should be more responsible in achieving the target,” he added.
“African and Middle Eastern markets also remain untapped for the country. We should work in those markets for increasing our export,” the chief of the apex trade body said.