Bar­ri­ers to in­tra-re­gional trade in South Asia

Maritime Gateway - - Business Session – Iv -

The fo­cus area of the present gov­ern­ment of Bangladesh is to pro­vide em­ploy­ment to the vast pop­u­la­tion of the na­tion by ex­pan­sion of trade and com­merce,” re­vealed mod­er­a­tor of the ses­sion, Shub­hashish Bose, Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Com­merce, Gov­ern­ment of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Bangladesh. The coun­try has am­bi­tious plans to join the league of mid­dle in­come coun­tries by 2021. The gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion is for in­clu­sive wel­fare, to pros­per along with other na­tions in the re­gion. To ful­fil this vi­sion Bangladesh is be­ing de­vel­oped as the eco­nomic hub for all coun­tries in the re­gion. In­cen­tives are be­ing of­fered to in­crease ex­ports, ex­pand ex­ports bas­ket and tar­get mar­kets are be­ing diver­si­fied. Bi­lat­eral agree­ments have been signed with 44 coun­tries to re­duce tar­iff and non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers.

To ex­pand trade and re­duce trade deficit Pref­er­en­tial Trade Agree­ments have been signed and duty free ben­e­fits have been achieved in ex­ports to EU, Ja­pan, Canada, China, Malaysia, S.korea, S.africa and Brazil. Even though SAFTA has been signed with South Asian coun­tries but the agree­ment is not per­form­ing as per ex­pec­ta­tions. Thus, the ses­sion rightly fo­cused on bar­ri­ers to in­tra-re­gional trade and so­lu­tions.

Sailesh Garg, Gen­eral Man­ager and MD, Drewry Mar­itime Ser­vices Pvt Ltd, In­dia dis­cussed the key trends and is­sues in trade among

South Asian coun­tries with more fo­cus on Bangladesh. The out­look for global econ­omy is good and looks ro­bust for the next five years. South Asia will be the growth driver, but there are cer­tain risk as­pects as well such as high oil prices and trade re­stric­tions. Trade wars at the global level can cre­ate favourable con­di­tions for South Asia coun­tries to bet­ter in­te­grate and in­crease trade. South Asia ac­counts for just 4 per cent of global GDP, ac­count­ing for less than 20 per cent of world ex­port and im­port.

Com­ing to In­dia, the econ­omy is ex­pected to re­main sta­ble and grow in the next five years. GST has brought down time and cost of lo­gis­tics to a great ex­tent. Cab­o­tage re­lax­ation will pro­mote tran­ship­ment in In­dia, about 47000 teus of tran­ship­ment con­tain­ers have been han­dled so far. With the sign­ing of treaties Bangladesh has emerged as the big­gest trade part­ner for In­dia in ASEAN. In the next 30 years Bangladesh will emerge as a de­vel­oped econ­omy and to sup­port this growth port and lo­gis­tics in­fra­struc­ture will need ca­pac­ity ad­di­tion. As roads alone can­not take the in­crease in cargo move­ment, so rail and in­land wa­ter­ways will play a ma­jor role in fu­ture lo­gis­tics. Pri­vate par­tic­i­pa­tion can help in im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture by fram­ing favourable poli­cies.

“World Bank re­port re­veals that in­trare­gional trade ac­counts for 50 per cent of trade in Asia Pa­cific, 20 per cent in Africa and just 5 per cent in South Asia. The rea­son is tar­iff, non-tar­iff and para-tar­iff bar­ri­ers,”

Bu­reau­crats and stake­hold­ers from the mar­itime fra­ter­nity iden­ti­fied lack of trust and tar­iff and non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers se­verely hin­der­ing the trade growth in the re­gion

(L to R) Sailesh Garg, Gen­eral Man­ager and MD, Drewry Mar­itime Ser­vices; Tarafder M Ruhul Amin, MD, SAIF Pow­ertech, Bangladesh;Shub­hashish Bose, Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Com­merce, Gov­ern­ment of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Bangladesh; Md. No­jibur Rah­man, Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, Gov­ern­ment of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Bangladesh; Shantanu Bhad­kamkar, Chair­man ATC Group; Khan­daker R Za­man, MD, Allseas Bangladesh; Nan­dan Yalgi, Manag­ing Direc­tor, Boxco Lo­gis­tics

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