Staff Reporter, Dhaka : Emphasis should be given to creating competitiveness to keep the country’s economy strong from the current global economic downturn. In order to maintain economic growth after graduating from the Least Developed Countries in 2026, expansion of exports, product diversification, exploring new markets, bilateral and multilateral trade agreements, increase production and export of Man Made Fibers (MMF) should be given importance.
These observations were made by the speakers at a seminar titled ‘Contemporary Global Economic Scenario: Challenges and way forward for EPZ enterprises in Bangladesh ‘ organized by Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA). BEPZA organized this seminar today (09/02/2023) to analyze the present economic challenges that have been arisen in the context of the post COVID situation & the Russia-Ukraine War as well as find out the possible ways to use the opportunities created by the economic uncertainty. Ali Reza Mazid, Member (Investment Promotion) of BEPZA moderated the seminar.
M. Tofazzel Hossain Miah, Principal Secretary to the Honorable Prime Minister, as the Chief Guest of the seminar, said Bangladesh has achieved significant growth in trade & export despite the US-China trade war, the Corona pandemic, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war etc. He uttered, to continue this trend even after graduating from least developed country in 2026, we need to increase our internal capacity and at the same time focused on diversification and expansion of export products.
Principal Secretary to the Honorable Prime Minister said, “About 86% of our total exports are based on ready-made garments whose market is mainly Europe and America. To expand our exports, we have to explore non-traditional markets in Middle East, Africa.” Mentioning the various incentives provided to investors by the present government under the leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister he urged to bargain with foreign buyers to ensure fair prices of our products.
M. Tofazzal Hossain Miah said that the government under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina is investment friendly. Referring to the private sector as the main driving force of the country’s economy, he said by forming a team consisting of EPZ investors and other industrial entrepreneurs under the leadership of BEPZA, if any problem related to business operation is raised with the government, it will be solved with special importance in order to keep the economy strong.
Welcoming the participants of the seminar BEPZA Executive Chairman Major General Abul Kalam Mohammad Ziaur Rahman, ndc, psc said that the whole world is experiencing many economic challenges. He said, “The aftermath of the strict lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing Russian-Ukraine War coupled with sanction & counter-sanctioned by the economic giants has put the world into a situation of economic turmoil and uncertainty. Energy crisis, food insecurity, inflation, etc. have impacted the global trade to a downturn.” Bangladesh is also experiencing the shock of this economic uproar, he added.
BEPZA Executive Chairman said that the domino effect of the Russian-Ukraine war has created instability in the region and reduced export demand from the countries like Bangladesh. The seminar was organized to closely study the ongoing economic ups and downs and explore the challenges therein, especially for the EPZ enterprises, he added
Dr. Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, Chairman of Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) presented the keynote paper of the seminar. He said multiple external headwinds are expected to exert a drag on economic activities worldwide. It includes- global economic downturn and trade slowdown, volatile prices and stubborn inflation, prolonged energy crisis, geopolitical tensions—not only due to the war in Ukraine but more prominently because of an escalating U.S.-China rivalry, weakening multilateralism etc. Domestic factors like inflation, pressure on foreign exchange reserves, etc., are added to external shocks, which created challenges for the economy of the country, he added.
Dr. Razzaque emphasized on internal capacity building and bilateral trade agreements for transition from LDCs. He said, to increase exports, we need to diversify our products and give importance to the production and export of man-made fiber apparels in addition to cotton fiber apparels. He pointed out that EPZ has a leading role in expanding exports. To meet this challenge, he emphasized on integration of global value chain, ensuring greater compliance, transfer of technology and relocation of industry, along with attracting foreign investment through EPZ.
As panelists, S. M. Khan, President of Bangladesh EPZ Investors Association (BEPZIA) highlighted the recent business scenario. He also shared the business experience of the investors and the challenges that they are currently facing and suspecting to face in the near future. Mohammad Iftekhar Awal Bhuiyan, Additional Director, Bangladesh Bank talked about the initiatives taken by Bangladesh Bank to facilitate the challenges in banking sector. Hossain Ahmed, Member (Customs Export, Bond & IT), NBR discussed about the challenges of the prevailing global economic uncertainty due to post COVID situation and Russia-Ukraine war. He hopes that operation of business would be easier by the single window. The investors of EPZs depicted different issues related to operating their business in an open forum.
High officials & representatives of the government including chief of different departments & organizations related to investment and export, foreign & local investors & their representatives of the enterprises of EPZs and high officials of BEPZA were present in the seminar.
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