The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday recommended that the government carefully analyse the clauses of free trade agreements (FTAs) as they often create challenges, rather than opportunities.
The FTA negotiations are important, but benefits should be carefully analysed before signing of the accords, the chamber president, Sabur Khan, said at a seminar on “Free Trade Agreements, Opportunities and Challenges for Bangladesh: framework issues,” organised by the DCCI.
Priorities should be set for FTA negotiations, such as economic strength, geographical proximity, diplomatic relationship, willingness of the partner country, scope of manpower exports and future prospect of cooperation, he said.
Khan also called for signing and implementation of bilateral FTAs with neighbouring and economically important countries.
Commerce Minister Ghulam Muhammed Quader said that the country should stress on free trade, adding that Bangladesh will soon sign the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) with USA.
Bangladesh has been enjoying reduced tariff facility because of WTO, and it is working hard to retain GSP facility in the US, he informed the seminar held at the DCCI auditorium.
“Developed countries are unilaterally reducing their tariffs, while least developed countries (LDCs) are most likely to face erosion of preference in these markets,” said Dr Khondoker Golam Moazzem, additional director (research), Centre for Policy Dialogue.
“Thus, Bangladesh should look for different approach and explore alternative markets,” he said, adding that signing FTAs could be a better option for the country.
Md. Sahab Ullah, chairman of Bangladesh Tariff Commission, stressed on value addition to our export items in getting FTA benefits.
Dr. Ananya Raihan, executive director of D-Net, said while singing FTAs, Bangladesh should assess the price competitiveness of its products.
Dr. Abul Basher, a research fellow at BIDS, stressed on strengthening relevant departments of the government.
He added that conducting research on the economy and business environment of the partner countries is equally important before signing FTAs.
DCCI vice president Absar Karim Chowdhury, directors Khairul Majid Mahmud, KMN Manjurul Hoque, M Abu Hurairah, Shahidul Islam, Abdus Salam and Md Shoaib Chowdhury were also present at the seminar.