Commerce Ministry Senior Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh on Monday said that the Export Readiness Fund (ERF), a matching-grant programme of the Export Competitiveness for Jobs Project, has shown how Bangladesh can diversify its exports beyond readymade garment.
"Diversification of exports beyond RMG is a big dilemma and the country will have to break this deadlock as Bangladesh has duty free market access in all the developed countries except the United States," he said.
Tapan said this while addressing the closing ceremony of ERF held at a hotel in Dhaka.
The ERF, a $17.5 million-financial grant programme of the World Bank, was launched in January 2020 under the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project implemented by the commerce ministry with the aim of developing factory compliance and increasing competitiveness of four targeted export sectors of the country.
The sectors include leather and leather goods, footwear, plastics and light engineering products.
A total of 570 enterprises in the four sectors received financial and technical support under the programme.
"We're doing well domestically in many manufacturing sectors, but still we're not being able to gain success in the global market. Many of the issues are blocking our entry in the world export market," the Senior Commerce Secretary said.
Despite having duty free market access, Bangladesh would have to comply with the standard of global environmental, social and governance goals to diversify the country's exports, he added.
Tapan also said that the country really needed foreign direct investment (FDI) for the export diversification, but the pace of the inflow of FDI was not in the required level.
The Commerce Secretary also urged the development partners and the World Bank to support Bangladesh so that the country could get FDI in desired level.
Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh president Syed Nasim Manzur said that the recent global economic slowdown was more severe than the Covid-19 situation and support for the small and medium enterprises was really needed to rebound from the crisis.
"Amid the high inflation and geo political situation, Bangladesh needs to focus on two areas including speed to the market and efficiency to remain competitive in the global market," he said.
Nasim also recommended that the government should focus on innovation, productivity, product development, acquisition of intellectual property, coordination among the government agencies and long-term financing for ensuring export diversification.
Souleymane Coulibaly, the lead country economist of the World Bank, said that the Export Readiness Fund (ERF) under the commerce ministry with support from the World Bank Group was helping Bangladesh to develop factory compliance and increasing competitiveness of four targeted export sectors.
He said that the World Bank was committed to enhance the competitiveness of Bangladesh's SME sector for the further economic growth of the country.
Project director of Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) Project Md Monsurul Alam, the ERF management unit team Leader Dave Runganaikaloo and World Bank Group private sector specialist Hosna Ferdous Sumi and CEO of Young Consultants Zakir Hossain spoke, among others, at the event.