BOOSTING EXPORT Sourcing Fair 2021

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In the highly globalized world that we live in, every nation is interconnected in the sense that no one produces all of anything. Countries only produce the goods or services in which they have comparative advantage and trade those in exchange for goods they are better off not producing. The notion of comparative advantage is one of the fundamental basics of the study of International Trade and has been widely analyzed to understand the bilateral or multilateral trade relationships.
Bangladesh is a developing nation and is tainted by political unrest, upheavals, and a vast population with limited access to technology. As such, we lag far behind many other nations in terms of boosting production and capacity. At the same time, capital formation in the country is still at a dire level which makes us increasingly dependent on foreign investment. But investors find it hard to make a profitable site out of the country owing to limited opportunity and internal issues.
Trade in Bangladesh
In order for the country to prosper, there is no alternatives to attracting foreigners through trade fairs and seminars whereby we uphold the benefits of investing in our country. The events work as a gateway for us to sneak into the global stage and highlight Bangladesh as one of the Next Eleven developing nations. The latter statement is indeed true. With a recorded growth of 8.14% during the second quarter of fiscal year 2019-2020, Bangladesh has become a role model for development for other countries. Bangladesh exports to 202 countries and territories of the world, and the number of products with an HS code is 766 (Seven Hundred Sixty-Six).
Most of the 8.14% growth has come from the service sector, a large portion of which is borne by the Government of Bangladesh. Private investment, especially foreign investment, has been mostly concentrated in the Ready Made Garments (RMG) industry because Bangladesh is a very attractive site for the proliferation of the sector due to the availability of cheap labor. It is not surprising to see a ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tag on a very expensive article of clothing these days. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic exposed a loophole in this setting. As many foreign buyers cancelled their orders to curb the spread of the virus, we were left with very little choice in our hands. The high concentration of ready made garments in the export basket proved fatal as we did not have other means to divert the loss. In this situation, organizing a trade fair was timely and just.

Sourcing Bangladesh 2021
The Export Promotion Bureau of Bangladesh has recently organized a virtual event titled Sourcing Bangladesh 2021, between the 15th to 21st of November, to regain the trade momentum of the country in the face of suspended trade fairs all around the world. Originally the event was scheduled to take place between October 18 to 24, but Foreign Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) and potential buyers recurrently requested the event to be rescheduled to a later date. The key focus of this event was to connect the export oriented companies of Bangladesh with foreign investors as well as other companies to facilitate trade relationships through holding Business to Business (B2B) meetings. The participating companies showed audio visuals and provided digital brochures on the virtual platform.
The expo received a great deal of international attention as a total of around 1,395 buyers from 52 countries registered for the event. The database of the participating visitors showed that a good deal of the visitors were from North America, Latin America, South East Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. On the sellers’ end, 60 different exporters from 13 different sectors participated in the event. This brings a light of hope as potential sectors like leather, jute, and fisheries may draw international attention alongside apparel industry and diversify the export basket.

At the same time, capital formation in the country is still at a dire level which makes us increasingly dependent on foreign investment

 

An interactive virtual platform
The event was inaugurated by Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi at the EPB office. The website worked like a virtual lobby with separate booths and information desk. Registered guests could log in to engage in real time conversations, video calls and even spectate the discussions on public forums. Through this, buyers could connect among themselves, much like an in-person event. Side by side, companies arranged webinars to display prospective export products, investment opportunities and benefits to attract foreign investment. Buyers could set online appointments with sellers to organize a time schedule to communicate matters in detail. This can provide a strong link of lead generating activities. A database will store public information of both parties (buyers and sellers) for the next six months.
The participating companies from Bangladesh belonged to a wide range of sectors including readymade garments, leather and leather products, jute and jute products, agro and agro-processed products, fisheries, home textile and home decor, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, ICT, plastic, electric and electronic products, light engineering products, furniture and handicrafts.

Why export from Bangladesh?
The Government of Bangladesh is actively seeking to attract foreign investment. Many incentives have been implemented through industrial policy, growth strategy by exports and public-private partnership (PPP) programs. In addition to that, the Foreign Private Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act, 1980, provides protection for investment made in Bangladesh against expropriation & nationalization, equitable treatment, exit and profit & capital repatriation, making it the most liberal FDI regime in South Asia.

Considering this, Sourcing Fair 2021 was a success. The fair was attended by EPB Vice-Chairman AHM Ahsan, Commerce Secretary Tapan Kant Ghosh, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) President Jasim Uddin, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan. To boost the export scenario of Bangladesh, the government should consider organizing more events such as this.

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