SAARC alliance on WTO issues sought
The country is going to face a very difficult situation in the post-MFA era unless export items and markets are diversified and proper steps are taken to ensure quality products, they cautioned.
Chaired by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) President Matiur Rahman, the dialogue on 'Business Implication in respect of WTO-TBT Agreement: Market Access Perspective' was organised by DCCI in cooperation with UN-ITC World Trade Net Programme, Switzerland held at the DCCI auditorium in the city. Dr Toufique Ali, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh Mission in Geneva attended the dialogue as chief guest.
Speaking at the dialogue, Dr Toufique Ali said Bangladesh has not developed its capability to face different WTO issues like Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).
"We have been actually left out," he observed adding chambers need to be more active in the present context.
Referring to his own experience, Dr Ali stressed the need for developing institutional capacity rather than training up individuals. "Only a fraction of people who were trained on this particular issue are contributing. Of the rest, majority of them were either transferred or retired."
In his welcome speech, DCCI president Matiur Rahman mentioned that important decisions would be taken in the commerce ministers' meet in September 2003. He said business in developing countries like Bangladesh should make effective contribution to the formation of national negotiating position.
Without ensuring quality and standard of products up to the need of markets like EU, Japan, Canada, China which have allowed preferential market access, it would be impossible to succeed in popularising and marketing Bangladeshi products, the DCCI leader added.
DCCI Director MA Momen presented the keynote paper before the dialogue where he said export earnings would be seriously threatened unless export items and markets are diversified.
A full-fledged inquiry point of Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) should be set up and a comprehensive national strategy with regard to technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment should be adopted, Momen recommended.
A Rouf Chowdhury, FBCCI director, said the country's present position is at stake. He recommended forming of alliance with other South Asian countries.
Dr Salauddin Ahmed of North South University said Bangladesh should form an alliance with other countries to deal with the WTO issues. Referring to India and Pakistan, he said these two countries maintain good relation on WTO issues.