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Project underway to facilitate trade: Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed

Updated on : 22-07-2018

Project underway to facilitate trade: Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed

Bangladesh has started making efforts to improve ease of doing business and boost trade facilitation by adopting projects and establishing greater regional connectivity, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said.

Poor connectivity is one of the major barriers to regional trade for Bangladesh, although many countries have already resolved such crisis by creating a single window for business, he said.

For creating such a single window or expediting online trade, the government has been working to bring all facilitators like the land and Chittagong ports, the National Board of Revenue, railways division, Economic Relations Division and commerce ministry under one window.

Ahmed yesterday held the first meeting of the “Bangladesh Regional Connectivity Project” for creating those trade facilities for faster ease of doing business by reducing the steps in business processes.

Under the project, modern facilities would be installed in the trade facilitating offices while infrastructures of the sea and land ports will be developed, the minister said in the meeting.

A total of $87 million would be spent for developing the land ports of the country. Of the amount, World Bank will provide $75 million and the government will spend $12 million, according to Ahmed.

The government will also develop the office of the NBR to speed up the processes of revenue collection and for quick release of trade related documents.

A total of $74.10 million will be spent for modernising the offices of the NBR. Of the amount, the WB will give $67 million and the government will spend $7.10 million, according to a meeting source.

A total of $8.6 million will be spent for the improvement of the commerce ministry. Of the amount, the WB will give $8 million and the government will give $0.60 million. The tenure of the project will come to an end in December 2021.

Bangladesh ratified the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in October 2016, committing to introducing online trade facilities or paperless trade procedures to reduce the cost of doing business and reduce steps in business procedures.

The agreement will mainly boost digitisation of custom clearance and documentation both in export and import business.

The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement and release and clearance of products, including goods in transit.

It sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.

According to a 2015 study carried out by the WTO economists, the full implementation of the TFA would reduce members' trade costs by an average of 14.3 percent, with the developing countries having the most to gain.

The deal also has the ability to reduce the time to import goods by over a day and a half while also bringing down the time to export by almost two days, representing a reduction of 47 percent and 91 percent respectively over the current average.

The TFA has the potential to increase global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion.

One of the major commitments of the TFA is the introduction of paperless business worldwide, which is expected to slash the cost of doing business by 10-15 percent.

The cost of doing business, particularly in the LDCs, is higher as importers and exporters have to pay extra money as bribe in customs, transportation and to process other documents.

Developing countries will benefit significantly from the TFA, capturing more than half of the available gains, according to the WTO.

Courtesy: The Daily Star 

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