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INDIA DESIGNING TRADE POLICIES FOR SA MARKET
BD offer duty free access to 23 products

Business Report

India is designing its trade policies focused creating a common market for the South Asian (SA) countries and as a first step towards that, New Delhi’s trade policies for 3015-20 have more elements to achieve regional trade integration.
Indian Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher spoke on the new outlook after a meeting with Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at his secretariat office on Monday last. He came on a visit here to attend a secretary level meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart to finalize the draft of the renewed bilateral trade agreement.
It may be signed here during the forthcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narandra Modi, apparently in early next month. Rajeev said a common market for the region is featured with a lot of harmonized policies like common currency, same taxation policy and free movement of people.
He said the Indian government has placed regional trade strongly in the trade policy for the next five years adding that South Asian common market is essential for strong economic growth of the region.
The two parties discussed how the two neighbouring countries can play bigger supportive role in global trade while implementing further market liberalization and higher market access to each other’s country, Kher said.
Ahmed said a new horizon in bilateral trade has started with the renewal of trade agreement between India and Bangladesh. The new agreement will now cover five years replacing the existing three years term. It would also see auto renewal after the expiry. Among other provisions, the new agreement would allow movement of Bangladeshi goods-laden trucks to Bhutan and Nepal through the Indian territories, he said.
Previously, Bangladeshi trucks could not enter the two countries as there was no agreement in place with India for using its land for traffic movement, he said.
There will be many makeshift markets along the India and Bangladesh bordering lines so that the people of those areas can have market access as well. At present, there are three such makeshift markets operating along on the border of the two countries.
He said the Indian secretary demanded duty-free export of 225 items under the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta) regime and at Sunday’s meeting Dhaka has agreed to give duty free access to 23 Indian products to Bangladesh.
Earlier with meeting with Bangladesh Commerce Secretary Kher demanded reduction of duty on exports of pomegranate and orange from India and permission to set up pasteurised milk factories in Bangladesh.
At the meeting, the Indian side agreed to accept Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution’s (BSTI) certification of 25 items for export to India, mainly dairy and food products.
India will also consider removal of 12.5 percent countervailing duty (CVD), a domestic tax to protect local industry, on export of Bangladeshi garment items to India.
They also agreed to consider the removal of trade barriers on export and use of jute bags from Bangladesh. India also agreed not to stop the export of some essential commodities like cotton to Bangladesh without prior notice.
Exports to India declined 19 percent year-on-year to $456.63 million in fiscal 2013-14, mainly due to a slowdown in shipment of garment items that enjoy duty benefits in Indian market. In fiscal 2012-13, exports to India totalled $563.97 million, according to the Export Promotion Bureau.
Import from India stood at $6.04 billion in fiscal 2013-14 and $4.78 billion the year before, according to data from the commerce ministry.
It is believed products worth another $5 billion enter Bangladesh through informal channels.

Comment

Business Report

India is designing its trade policies focused creating a common market for the South Asian (SA) countries and as a first step towards that, New Delhi’s trade policies for 3015-20 have more elements to achieve regional trade integration.
Indian Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher spoke on the new outlook after a meeting with Bangladesh Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at his secretariat office on Monday last. He came on a visit here to attend a secretary level meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart to finalize the draft of the renewed bilateral trade agreement.
It may be signed here during the forthcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narandra Modi, apparently in early next month. Rajeev said a common market for the region is featured with a lot of harmonized policies like common currency, same taxation policy and free movement of people.
He said the Indian government has placed regional trade strongly in the trade policy for the next five years adding that South Asian common market is essential for strong economic growth of the region.
The two parties discussed how the two neighbouring countries can play bigger supportive role in global trade while implementing further market liberalization and higher market access to each other’s country, Kher said.
Ahmed said a new horizon in bilateral trade has started with the renewal of trade agreement between India and Bangladesh. The new agreement will now cover five years replacing the existing three years term. It would also see auto renewal after the expiry. Among other provisions, the new agreement would allow movement of Bangladeshi goods-laden trucks to Bhutan and Nepal through the Indian territories, he said.
Previously, Bangladeshi trucks could not enter the two countries as there was no agreement in place with India for using its land for traffic movement, he said.
There will be many makeshift markets along the India and Bangladesh bordering lines so that the people of those areas can have market access as well. At present, there are three such makeshift markets operating along on the border of the two countries.
He said the Indian secretary demanded duty-free export of 225 items under the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta) regime and at Sunday’s meeting Dhaka has agreed to give duty free access to 23 Indian products to Bangladesh.
Earlier with meeting with Bangladesh Commerce Secretary Kher demanded reduction of duty on exports of pomegranate and orange from India and permission to set up pasteurised milk factories in Bangladesh.
At the meeting, the Indian side agreed to accept Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution’s (BSTI) certification of 25 items for export to India, mainly dairy and food products.
India will also consider removal of 12.5 percent countervailing duty (CVD), a domestic tax to protect local industry, on export of Bangladeshi garment items to India.
They also agreed to consider the removal of trade barriers on export and use of jute bags from Bangladesh. India also agreed not to stop the export of some essential commodities like cotton to Bangladesh without prior notice.
Exports to India declined 19 percent year-on-year to $456.63 million in fiscal 2013-14, mainly due to a slowdown in shipment of garment items that enjoy duty benefits in Indian market. In fiscal 2012-13, exports to India totalled $563.97 million, according to the Export Promotion Bureau.
Import from India stood at $6.04 billion in fiscal 2013-14 and $4.78 billion the year before, according to data from the commerce ministry.
It is believed products worth another $5 billion enter Bangladesh through informal channels.


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Garment industry firms on compliance but export on decline

Shamsul Huda

Mohiuddin Faruqui

Garment industry is facing setback and its export earnings is poised to see negative growth at the end of the current fiscal although this is not a welcome phenomenon in Bangladesh’s external trade.
Former vice president of BKMEA Mohiuddin Faruqui who is running export factories, however blamed political turmoil which hit the country early this year as the main reason for it.
He said Bangladesh garment industry lost a good number of buyers to other third country supply chain to cause the temporary setback. He said, by and large, buyers still have their confidence in Bangladesh and putting fresh buying orders.
He said the January-March growth for readymade garments were positive as orders were increasing in the second quarter of the fiscal 2014-15. He said, the impact of January-March period is likely to be visible in the shipments by the middle of this year.
Though it is uncertain to say about export growth by the fiscal year end in June, as per shipment record and other statistics it may not exceed last year’s export performance and even may pass into negative growth.
Faruqui said export volume to the EU and US markets was increasing after recovering the shocks of Rana Plaza disaster but the prolonged political crisis marred with nationwide blockade has slowed the recovery again.
He said the positive export growth in the third quarter happened due to execution of last year’s November-December order flow. But after buyers forming of industry watch and monitoring platforms like ‘alliance’ by US buyers and accord by European buyers, the industry is doing fairly well in terms of compliance and buyers are also feeling reassured of continuing business.
The buyers were feeling happy at the compliance records and orders are flowing in greater volume. The former BKNMEA leader said many factories were shutdown in the process as they were unable to implement the compliance regimes and those who were able do that were able to expend export by Tk50 million to 60 million per month.
He said, “The industry has no power to avoid the huge expenditure, we have to pay for the compliance and we have to do it if we want to do business.”
He said fear of volatile political situation still exists among some buyers and the Transparency International Bangladesh’s comment on city polls that it was flawed has been taken seriously by some buyers. They fear for further chaotic chaos.
He said one of his regular buyers has shown unwillingness to outsource garments from him fearing political situation may worsen anytime which may in turn hamper timely shipment.
Mr Faruqi, Managing Director of Multifabs Limited said Bangladesh is still lagging behind India and Vietnam in term of export growth of readymade garments to the US market while the EU economy is recovering from the financial meltdown and orders remained at the low side.
He said both India and Vietnam could increase their exports to the US while Bangladesh may be in the trail.
The former BKMEA leader said from January to March this year when Bangladesh witnessed worst political turmoil, Vietnam exported $2.43 billion and India $1.03 billion in the US.
In this performance Vietnam’s growth was 12.11 per cent and India 9.36per cent.
He said China is still holding the first position of exporting readymade garment to the US with 36.47 per cent market share.
In the first quarter of the current year China exported $6.47 billion worth of garment with 4.93 per cent growth.
Vietnam is in second position and Bangladesh third with $1.39 billion in the first quarter (Januiary-March, 2015) and Indonesia fourth.
Bangladesh’s export growth was positive and 6.25 per cent higher over the same period of the previous year.
Mr Faruqui said it is likely to increase growth in the EU market at the first quarter of the new fiscal year, 2015-16 from July to September as European Union is recovering from slums and people’s purchase power would increase.
himelshamsul@gmail.com

Comment

Shamsul Huda

Mohiuddin Faruqui

Garment industry is facing setback and its export earnings is poised to see negative growth at the end of the current fiscal although this is not a welcome phenomenon in Bangladesh’s external trade.
Former vice president of BKMEA Mohiuddin Faruqui who is running export factories, however blamed political turmoil which hit the country early this year as the main reason for it.
He said Bangladesh garment industry lost a good number of buyers to other third country supply chain to cause the temporary setback. He said, by and large, buyers still have their confidence in Bangladesh and putting fresh buying orders.
He said the January-March growth for readymade garments were positive as orders were increasing in the second quarter of the fiscal 2014-15. He said, the impact of January-March period is likely to be visible in the shipments by the middle of this year.
Though it is uncertain to say about export growth by the fiscal year end in June, as per shipment record and other statistics it may not exceed last year’s export performance and even may pass into negative growth.
Faruqui said export volume to the EU and US markets was increasing after recovering the shocks of Rana Plaza disaster but the prolonged political crisis marred with nationwide blockade has slowed the recovery again.
He said the positive export growth in the third quarter happened due to execution of last year’s November-December order flow. But after buyers forming of industry watch and monitoring platforms like ‘alliance’ by US buyers and accord by European buyers, the industry is doing fairly well in terms of compliance and buyers are also feeling reassured of continuing business.
The buyers were feeling happy at the compliance records and orders are flowing in greater volume. The former BKNMEA leader said many factories were shutdown in the process as they were unable to implement the compliance regimes and those who were able do that were able to expend export by Tk50 million to 60 million per month.
He said, “The industry has no power to avoid the huge expenditure, we have to pay for the compliance and we have to do it if we want to do business.”
He said fear of volatile political situation still exists among some buyers and the Transparency International Bangladesh’s comment on city polls that it was flawed has been taken seriously by some buyers. They fear for further chaotic chaos.
He said one of his regular buyers has shown unwillingness to outsource garments from him fearing political situation may worsen anytime which may in turn hamper timely shipment.
Mr Faruqi, Managing Director of Multifabs Limited said Bangladesh is still lagging behind India and Vietnam in term of export growth of readymade garments to the US market while the EU economy is recovering from the financial meltdown and orders remained at the low side.
He said both India and Vietnam could increase their exports to the US while Bangladesh may be in the trail.
The former BKMEA leader said from January to March this year when Bangladesh witnessed worst political turmoil, Vietnam exported $2.43 billion and India $1.03 billion in the US.
In this performance Vietnam’s growth was 12.11 per cent and India 9.36per cent.
He said China is still holding the first position of exporting readymade garment to the US with 36.47 per cent market share.
In the first quarter of the current year China exported $6.47 billion worth of garment with 4.93 per cent growth.
Vietnam is in second position and Bangladesh third with $1.39 billion in the first quarter (Januiary-March, 2015) and Indonesia fourth.
Bangladesh’s export growth was positive and 6.25 per cent higher over the same period of the previous year.
Mr Faruqui said it is likely to increase growth in the EU market at the first quarter of the new fiscal year, 2015-16 from July to September as European Union is recovering from slums and people’s purchase power would increase.
himelshamsul@gmail.com


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RMG sector faces  higher tax at source

Business Report

The government is planning to increase tax at source on export proceeds from ready made garments in the coming fiscal year. The new tax proposal is likely to emerge in the budget proposals for 2015-16.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith tends to justify the move saying this sector receives a lot of benefit from the government and now it is time for the exporters to give back—at least something to support other deserving sectors. The tax at source on export receipts was reduced to 0.3 percent in the ongoing budget
for 2014-15 from 0.8 percent in the previous one. If the rate is increased, the government would be able to collect a large amount of revenue, the finance minister said in the city last week.
Speaking at a discussion on “budget 2015-16: some selected analysis” organised by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) at its office in Dhaka. Secretary of the Finance Division Mahbub Ahmed said the government would review the subsidy allocations for different sectors, including garment and fix its new revenue targets.
The subsidy regime would be rationalised and possibly there will be changes in the distribution and measures to avoid its abuse,” he said.
Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow of BIDS in his paper on “fiscal incentives for export industries: lessons for the coming budget” said “The government should review the issue of cash incentives keeping in mind the limitation of its resources.
She said the garment sector enjoys half of the total cash incentives, but now other thrust sectors should get these facilities. Other speakers focused their discussions on the hardships of working people and the need to keep inflation down. They also laid emphasis on review of various support schemes for the disadvantaged groups suggesting that subsidies may be refocused to cut waste from supporting organized sectors while relocating funds to support the needy groups.

Comment

Business Report

The government is planning to increase tax at source on export proceeds from ready made garments in the coming fiscal year. The new tax proposal is likely to emerge in the budget proposals for 2015-16.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith tends to justify the move saying this sector receives a lot of benefit from the government and now it is time for the exporters to give back—at least something to support other deserving sectors. The tax at source on export receipts was reduced to 0.3 percent in the ongoing budget
for 2014-15 from 0.8 percent in the previous one. If the rate is increased, the government would be able to collect a large amount of revenue, the finance minister said in the city last week.
Speaking at a discussion on “budget 2015-16: some selected analysis” organised by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) at its office in Dhaka. Secretary of the Finance Division Mahbub Ahmed said the government would review the subsidy allocations for different sectors, including garment and fix its new revenue targets.
The subsidy regime would be rationalised and possibly there will be changes in the distribution and measures to avoid its abuse,” he said.
Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow of BIDS in his paper on “fiscal incentives for export industries: lessons for the coming budget” said “The government should review the issue of cash incentives keeping in mind the limitation of its resources.
She said the garment sector enjoys half of the total cash incentives, but now other thrust sectors should get these facilities. Other speakers focused their discussions on the hardships of working people and the need to keep inflation down. They also laid emphasis on review of various support schemes for the disadvantaged groups suggesting that subsidies may be refocused to cut waste from supporting organized sectors while relocating funds to support the needy groups.


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Islami Bank’s RDS empowering women

Business Report

Islami Bank’s Rural Development Scheme (RDS) is playing a pivotal role in combating poverty and empowering women in the country. Started in 1995, it has brought change in the living standard of more than nine lac people in more than 18 thousand villages of 64 districts, said a press release.
Only few decades back poverty was integral part of rural life. Women and children were the hapless victims of unemployment suffering from malnutrition in absence of a sustainable livelihood.
Children used to work in agricultural field and household activities. The women had no outdoor engagement to earn sustainable income. Like any government and NGO initiative Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd therefore launched the RDS to empowering women with a view to bring about socio0economic transformation.
The bank has already invested Tk. 18,197 million upto April this year under the RDS programmes to accelerate rural based economic activities to create employment and enterprises for women to generate income for their families.
  The bank highlighted the activities of one Hasina Begum who used the RDS service and was able to transform her life of a malnourished housewife to solvency.
  Hailed from Norshindhi district her husband was a poor peasant and living in abject poverty. She started with poultry farming with her little savings and soon became a member of RDS financial service.
  She bought cows, trolley and a piece of land for front line business and was able to change the life. Hasina now represents the changing fate of thousands of women using Islami Bank’s financial services.
  Islami Bank encourages RDS members to build savings to achieve self reliance by starting investing in the agriculture, poultry, small business, cottage industry and such others. Primary health, children education, protecting environment and building savings are some other features that the RDS work for.
  It also promotes sanitary latrines, tube-wells, free medical care, assistance in poor girls wedding, vocational training also stand at the centre of its activities.

Comment

Business Report

Islami Bank’s Rural Development Scheme (RDS) is playing a pivotal role in combating poverty and empowering women in the country. Started in 1995, it has brought change in the living standard of more than nine lac people in more than 18 thousand villages of 64 districts, said a press release.
Only few decades back poverty was integral part of rural life. Women and children were the hapless victims of unemployment suffering from malnutrition in absence of a sustainable livelihood.
Children used to work in agricultural field and household activities. The women had no outdoor engagement to earn sustainable income. Like any government and NGO initiative Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd therefore launched the RDS to empowering women with a view to bring about socio0economic transformation.
The bank has already invested Tk. 18,197 million upto April this year under the RDS programmes to accelerate rural based economic activities to create employment and enterprises for women to generate income for their families.
  The bank highlighted the activities of one Hasina Begum who used the RDS service and was able to transform her life of a malnourished housewife to solvency.
  Hailed from Norshindhi district her husband was a poor peasant and living in abject poverty. She started with poultry farming with her little savings and soon became a member of RDS financial service.
  She bought cows, trolley and a piece of land for front line business and was able to change the life. Hasina now represents the changing fate of thousands of women using Islami Bank’s financial services.
  Islami Bank encourages RDS members to build savings to achieve self reliance by starting investing in the agriculture, poultry, small business, cottage industry and such others. Primary health, children education, protecting environment and building savings are some other features that the RDS work for.
  It also promotes sanitary latrines, tube-wells, free medical care, assistance in poor girls wedding, vocational training also stand at the centre of its activities.


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Govt contemplates offloading more shares of power cos

Business Report

With power sector high on stock market trading, the government has initiated a fresh move to offload its shares in state-owned power companies to meet the growing demand and make the utility services public.
The Power Division under the power, energy and mineral resources ministry was scheduled to sit with key stakeholders on Thursday in this respect. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss how funds can be raised from the capital market and invest it in different power generation projects under the Power Division,” an official of the Power Division said.
How the government can offload more of its shares in two listed power companies owned by the state will also be discussed in the meeting. Representatives from Bangladesh SEC, Investment Corporation of Bangladesh, Dhaka Stock Exchange and the power companies concerned would discuss the issue. The two state-owned power companies that are listed on the stock market are Dhaka Electric Supply Company (Desco) and Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB).
The government in 2006 offloaded 25 percent of its shares in Desco and 23.75 percent of its shares in PGCB through direct listing.
Some other companies under the Power Division include Dhaka Power Distribution Company, West Zone Power Distribution Company, Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh, North-West Power Generation Company, and Rural Power Company.
On the Dhaka bourse yesterday, each Desco share was traded between Tk 66.90 and Tk 69 before closing at Tk 67.80, while a PGCB share was traded between Tk 34.10 and Tk 35 before finishing at Tk 34.20.
Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company was the last state-owned company that was listed on the stockmarket, in 2008. After that, the government in January 2010 had selected 26 state-owned companies and instructed them to offload shares in the next six months.

Comment

Business Report

With power sector high on stock market trading, the government has initiated a fresh move to offload its shares in state-owned power companies to meet the growing demand and make the utility services public.
The Power Division under the power, energy and mineral resources ministry was scheduled to sit with key stakeholders on Thursday in this respect. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss how funds can be raised from the capital market and invest it in different power generation projects under the Power Division,” an official of the Power Division said.
How the government can offload more of its shares in two listed power companies owned by the state will also be discussed in the meeting. Representatives from Bangladesh SEC, Investment Corporation of Bangladesh, Dhaka Stock Exchange and the power companies concerned would discuss the issue. The two state-owned power companies that are listed on the stock market are Dhaka Electric Supply Company (Desco) and Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB).
The government in 2006 offloaded 25 percent of its shares in Desco and 23.75 percent of its shares in PGCB through direct listing.
Some other companies under the Power Division include Dhaka Power Distribution Company, West Zone Power Distribution Company, Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh, North-West Power Generation Company, and Rural Power Company.
On the Dhaka bourse yesterday, each Desco share was traded between Tk 66.90 and Tk 69 before closing at Tk 67.80, while a PGCB share was traded between Tk 34.10 and Tk 35 before finishing at Tk 34.20.
Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company was the last state-owned company that was listed on the stockmarket, in 2008. After that, the government in January 2010 had selected 26 state-owned companies and instructed them to offload shares in the next six months.


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Shahjalal Islami Bank's board meeting held

Business Report

The Board of Directors of Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited (SJIBL) held a meeting at its boardroom recently with its chairman A. K. Azad presiding over the meeting. It approved a number of investment proposals and discussed loan policy matters in the present business climate.
Vice-Chairman of the board Alhaj Mohammad Younus and other directors were present. The bank's Managing Director Farman R Chowdhury, Additional Managing Director Masihul Huq Chowdhury and Deputy Managing Director Md. Setaur Rahman were also present.

Comment

Business Report

The Board of Directors of Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited (SJIBL) held a meeting at its boardroom recently with its chairman A. K. Azad presiding over the meeting. It approved a number of investment proposals and discussed loan policy matters in the present business climate.
Vice-Chairman of the board Alhaj Mohammad Younus and other directors were present. The bank's Managing Director Farman R Chowdhury, Additional Managing Director Masihul Huq Chowdhury and Deputy Managing Director Md. Setaur Rahman were also present.


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