The government has taken the initiative to put in place a policy for cross-border e-commerce soon, aiming to facilitate exports of Bangladeshi products online.
In order to take a decision regarding the policy, Ministry of Commerce additional secretary and Digital Commerce Cell (DCC) Chief Coordinator Md Hafizur Rahman will chair a meeting in the conference room of Commerce Ministry at 11:00pm on Monday (September 19, 2022).
Officials from the Ministry of Commerce, as well as from Detective Branch (DB) and Special Branch (SB) of the Bangladesh Police will join the meeting to discuss payment systems, technical assistance, training and technology.
Mentioning that work on cross-border e-commerce has started, Md Hafizur Rahman told The Business Post, “Once it is implemented, illegal trade will be stopped and the government will gain more revenue.”
Mentioning that Bangladesh is not likely to conduct e-commerce trade with India, the additional secretary explained that there is not much demand for Bangladeshi products in the neighbouring country.
“We need to place a warehouse in Dubai if we want to conduct trade with other countries, including middle-eastern countries,” he added.
Md Hafizur Rahman also mentioned that Visa and Mastercard are being considered in case of transactions. Other than that, mobile financial services would also be considered. At present Bangladesh Bank is verifying whether there would be any complications regarding the process. The payment gateway will remain under the scope of automation.
“Currently, there is no specific policy in the country to operate cross-border trade through digital platforms. Preparing a time-appropriate Cross-Border Digital Policy or amending the existing relevant policies is crucial,” said e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-Cab) Secretary General Abdul Wahed Tomal.
In a February 23 meeting, two intelligence departments (DB and SB) reported that several e-commerce platforms are currently operating cross-border trade through digital platforms which may lead to money laundering in the absence of a proper policy. As a result of such unchecked trade, they’re facing complications, their clients are being deprived of timely services, and the government is losing revenue.
The activities of hundi - an illegal cross-border money transfer network – can also be checked if a formal policy framework is put in place.
This correspondent found that several digital marketing organisations, including Daraz Bangladesh, supply products to consumers from abroad. In this case, they follow the National Board of Revenue’s (NBR) Customs (De-minimis) Rules 2019.
However, the price limit mentioned in the rules is meagre, and traders have urged re-visiting the existing Customs (De-minimis) Rules, 2019, to accommodate “low-value consumer goods purchased through e-commerce platforms for personal use” up to a value of $50 on which import duties and taxes will not be charged.
Traders have also called for an amendment of the existing Import Policy Order to accommodate online e-commerce marketplaces to facilitate payments to foreign sellers for low-value products imported by customers for personal use.