Bangladesh can dou­ble its trade in South Asia: WB re­port

Apparel Online - - Beyond India -

World’s sec­ond big­gest ap­parel man­u­fac­turer and ex­porter Bangladesh has the po­ten­tial to more than dou­ble its trade with South Asian na­tions by ex­plor­ing in­tra-re­gional trade, the World Bank has said in its re­port pub­lished re­cently. The global lender, in its re­port said, in­trare­gional trade in South Asia, which re­mains one of the low­est in the world, has the po­ten­tial to grow up to three times from US $ 23 bil­lion now, just by re­mov­ing man-made bar­ri­ers like tar­iffs and dis­trust. The re­port ti­tled ‘A Glass Half Full: The Prom­ise of Re­gional Trade in South Asia’ was pub­lished jointly by WB and the Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute of Bangladesh. The re­port was launched dur­ing an event at Dhaka. Bangladesh’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter AMA Muhith was present at the pro­gramme. Trade within the South Asian re­gion ac­counts for about 5 per cent of the re­gion’s to­tal trade, the re­port says, dub­bing it whim­si­cally low against 50 per cent in East Asia and the Pa­cific. It said the large gaps be­tween ac­tual and po­ten­tial trade arise be­cause coun­tries in the re­gion have erected bar­ri­ers against each other. The World Bank iden­ti­fied four crit­i­cal bar­ri­ers to­wards in­tra-re­gional trade: tar­iffs and para tar­iffs, real and per­ceived non­tar­iff bar­ri­ers, con­nec­tiv­ity costs, and a broader trust deficit. San­jay Kathuria, World Bank’s Lead Econ­o­mist and Lead Au­thor of the re­port said, “Trust be­tween coun­tries is in short sup­ply in South Asia.” Zaidi Sat­tar, Chair­man of Or­gan­is­ing In­sti­tu­tion Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute, said South Asia has the po­ten­tial to stim­u­late rapid growth and eco­nomic pros­per­ity in the re­gion and con­trib­ute to pulling mil­lions out of poverty. “The re­gion’s trade with the rest of the world is leap­ing big for the last quar­ter cen­tury. But, the in­tra-re­gional trade de­clined.” The in­tra-re­gional trade has come down to 2.5 per cent from 5 per cent, posted be­fore the sign­ing of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agree­ment in 2004, said Sat­tar cit­ing a PRI re­search.

The WB said the costs of trade are much higher within South Asia com­pared with other re­gions. The re­port stated, “The aver­age tar­iff in South Asia is more than dou­ble the world’s aver­age. South Asian coun­tries have greater pro­tec­tion for im­ports from the re­gion than from the rest of the world.” The re­port said coun­tries im­pose high para-tar­iffs and more than onethird of the in­trare­gional trade falls un­der sen­si­tive lists, com­pris­ing goods not in­cluded un­der the SAFTA’s tar­iff lib­er­al­i­sa­tion. In case of Bangladesh, nearly 46 per cent of the coun­try’s im­ports from the re­gion fall un­der the sen­si­tive lists.

(From left) – Sadiq Ahmed, Vice Chair­man of PRI; Qimiao Fan, Coun­try Di­rec­tor of the WB for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal; AMA Muhith, Fi­nance Min­is­ter; San­jay Kathuria, WB Lead Econ­o­mist; and Zaidi Sat­tar, Chair­man of Or­gan­is­ing In­sti­tu­tion Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute

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