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'Exports to UK could cross $12b by 2029 if policies simplified'

Published : Sunday, 19 March, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 135

Speakers at a discussion meeting said that products exported to the United Kingdom would cross $ 12 billion by 2029 if Bangladesh could utilise developing countries' trading scheme (DCTS) facilities of the UK.

They said the DCTS of the UK can be a catalyst in boosting exports of non-garments items while the continued duty-free access under DCTS is set to help Bangladesh's clothing exports even after LDC graduation.

The speakers said this while speaking at a stakeholders' consultation programme titled "Expanding and Diversifying Export to the UK Market". Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID), a think tank, organised the event with the support of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of UK, held in the capital on Thursday.

Senior commerce secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh was present as the chief guest. Dr Duncan Overfield, deputy development director of FCDO, Md Faizul Islam, Chairman of Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission, MAM Ahsan, vice chairman and CEO of Export Promotion Bureau also spoke on the occasion.

Stakeholders in leather, footwear, electronics, shrimp, and frozen food sectors were also present in the discussion.

A study report presentation on the topic by Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, Chairman of RAPID, revealed that Bangladesh's export volume to the UK was $500 million till fiscal year (FY) 2000, which expanded to $4.8 billion in FY 2022.

He pointed out that the UK is the third largest export destination of Bangladeshi products and the UK accounts for over 9 percent of the country's merchandise exports.

"The country (Bangladesh) will enjoy the same LDC benefits for export of all items till 2029 through the DCTS comprehensive preferences," he said.

The UK has specified more liberal product-specific rules (PSRs) only for LDCs. Bangladesh will allow import inputs and raw materials from more than 95 countries and yet be eligible for duty-free exports.

After LDC graduation in November 2026, Bangladesh will continue to enjoy the same LDC benefits for another three years (until November 2029), according to the study.

As an LDC, Bangladesh also stands to benefit from more generous UK Rules of Origin (RoO) requirements. The minimum value-added requirement for LDC non-garment products has been reduced to 25 percent from 30 percent under the previous GSP, it said.

LDC textile and clothing exports to the UK will continue to benefit from the single-stage transformation, The UK DCTS offers relaxed and liberal product-specific rules and extended cumulation facilities, allowing inputs to be imported from 95 countries and yet the LDC manufacturers of final products to be eligible for duty-free exports, the study said.

The study of RAPID found that Bangladesh has potential products for export diversification in leather goods and footwear, light engineering, agro and food processing while fish and shrimp are prominent non-garment export sectors.

Consultations with the exporters and manufacturers revealed that a lack of knowledge and information about the UK market obstructs expanding exports of non-garments products.

The government policy support for product diversification and capacity development of Bangladesh entrepreneurs would help the export expanding opportunity in the UK, the study said.    UNB

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