Bangladesh Trade Policy Framework - CPD-MCCI Dialogue


Bangladesh Trade Policy Framework - CPD-MCCI Dialogue
“Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Senior Research Fellow of the CPD; Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, CPD Executive Director; Mr. Osman Farruk, former Minister; Mr. Syed Manzur Elahi, former Adviser to the government & Chairman of Apex Group; Dr. Mozibur Rahman, Chairman of Bangladesh Tariff Commission; Barrister Nihad Kabir, Vice-President of the MCCI, and Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, Distinguished Fellow of CPD”
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), in association with the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dhaka, organized a Dialogue on Bangladesh Trade Policy Framework for the Next Decade on 3 July 2012 at a city hotel to discuss the findings of a recent study titled ‘Developing a Trade Policy Framework for Bangladesh’
A working paper by CPD - Katalyst observed that there was strong evidence of import dumping and that reforms of the institutions have largely been overlooked. It said Bangladesh’s import policy is legally binding while the export policy is not. It found weak linkages between trade liberalization and growth. The paper also said that there was another weak relationship between manufacturing growth and tariff liberalization.
Dr. Khondaker Golam Moazzem - Senior Research Fellow of CPD presented the study paper - Framework for the proposed Comprehensive Trade Policy. The policy paper was jointly prepared by BIDS Senior Research Fellow Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, Mr. Syed Nasim Manzur Committee Member of MCCI & Managing Director of Apex Adelchi Footwear Ltd and Ms. Mehruna Islam Chowdhury - Senior Associate of CPD.
The study has briefly reviewed the current trade-related policies, prepared an outline of a framework for the future trade policy, and suggested a structure of the proposed policy. Along with this, CPD has also prepared a draft Comprehensive Trade Policy 2012-2017 and outlined its salient features. 
Speakers, who took part in the discussion, highlighted the urgency for integration of all relevant policies in the proposed guideline framework so that it doesn’t contradict with existing rules and regulations and other business principles. 
They observed that better coordination among various components of the macro-economic policies was necessary to pursue strategic trade policy effectively. Various policy instruments deployed in fiscal, monetary and exchange rate arena ought to be better coordinated with those of the trade policy. 
Bangladesh external trade is regulated by a number of policies, orders and acts which are structured under a broader liberalisation framework. In general, different trade related activities have been carried out under the common understanding between different ministries and departments as per rules and regulations. 
“An effective trade policy will ensure that relevant government departments and agencies work in a coordinated manner,” said Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya - Distinguished Fellow of CPD terming it an instrument for structural change in the economy. A major objective of the trade policy should be to strengthen production networks, said the fellow stressing the need for accelerating the production both in industry and agriculture to pick up the growth rate at 10 per cent from 7 per cent. 
Chaired by Mr. Syed Manzur Elahi Former Adviser to the Government & Chairman of Apex Group, the meeting was addressed among others by Dr. Osman Farooq - former Minister, Mr. Syeduzzaman former Finance Minister, Mr. Sohel Ahmed Chowdhury - former secretary, Mr. Anis Ud Dowla former President of MCCI and Chairman of ACI Group.
Representatives from various trade, business, NGOs and corporate bodies, academics, researchers, business leaders and government officials attended the programme and took part in discussions. 
The goal of the proposed trade policy will be to make local industries competitive both in domestic and international markets by enhancing productivity and efficiency by better governance in trade related activities. 
The proposed policy will be based on ten pillars –strategic trade policy, supportive macro policies, product and market diversification, improving trade facilitation, enhancing capacity and efficiency, ensuring better governance, improving business process, strengthening linkages, better trade diplomacy and addressing new issues related to trade.
As part of the process of formulating a trade policy, abroad based consultation was conducted with major stakeholders including senior officials of different ministries and departments, representatives of trade bodies, leading businessmen, civil society organisations, academicians, trade union leaders and NGOs.