The first meeting titled “Bangladesh Regional Connectivity Project” held on 18 July for creating trade facilities ease by reducing the steps in business processes. Bangladesh ratified the World Trade Organization’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.
Figure: Projects underway to facilitate trade.
The agreement will mainly boost digitization of customs 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 effectual cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.
In the first meeting, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said that Bangladesh has started making efforts to improve ease of doing business and boost trade facilitation by adopting projects and establishing greater regional connectivity.
“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 added.
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.
“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.
According to a meeting source, 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. 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 modernizing the offices of the NBR. Of the amount, the WB will give $67 million and the government will spend $7.10 million.
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.