Asia Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2013

The Asia Pacific Trade and Investment Report has been produced annually since 2009 by UN ESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) as part of its Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Week and is published around the world by different organizations. The Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) and the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) jointly organized the launch ceremony in Bangladesh which was held at the DCCI auditorium on Saturday 23 November 2013.

The event included a number of prominent persons involved with trade and commerce in Bangladesh, including Dr. Md. Mozibur Rahman, CEO, BFTI who chaired the programme. Mr. Md. Sabur Khan, President, DCCI and Mr. Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance were key participants at the gathering and Dr. Md. Abu Yusuf, Senior Fellow, BFTI was the key-note speaker who summarized the report for participants. Ms. Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO, Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) was present as a discussant.

Theevent began with Dr. Md. Mozibur Rahman who welcomed everyone and described different aspects of the report. He expressed his high appreciation of the initiative taken by ESCAP and thanked the audience for their attendance and interest. Dr. Rahman noted that APTIR-2013 provides participating countries with valuable suggestions that will help their businesses to flourish. He discussed some trade-related difficulties that have arisen in Bangladesh from political instability and urged political leaders, as a high priority, to resolve their differences so that the flow of trade and investment in Bangladesh would not be interrupted. Dr. Rahman emphasized a significant point which was that cheap labor may raise competitive capacity but it works against inclusive development. He stated that reducing other costs is a much better approach to that of reducing the cost of labor.

Mr. Md. Sabur Khan followed with expressions of his sincere thanks to BFTI for taking the initiative to undertake joint organization of the event with DCCI. He highlighted some important points from the report such as the current trend in regional trade and he discussed policies to ensure inclusive development of trade and investment. Mr. Khan concurred with the report’s findings that Bangladesh has to play an important role to continue the momentum of trade and investment in the Asia Pacific region. However, Mr. Khan noted his concern regarding the fact that most LDCs in Asia have significantly higher trade costs than developing countries.

Dr Md. Abu Yusuf, in his presentation, briefed participants on the contents of the “Asia Pacific Trade and Investment Report-2013”. He described some important findings from the report such as the need for deeper understanding of regional trends and developments in trade and investment, emerging issues in trade, investment and trade facilitation policies and impacts of these policies on countries’ abilities to meet the challenges of achieving inclusive and sustainable development.

Ms. Ferdaus Ara Begum, in her comments on important issues, noted that even though inequality is rising it should not be allowed to continue. She emphasised the service sector and noted that the RMG industry could be an important channel that less fortunate segments of society pass through on their way to social and economic improvement. She claimed that the China factor in the Asia Pacific region is not a good sign for future betterment. Ms. Ara Begum drew the attention of participants to regional integration and requested the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) to rejuvenate the program that was started with the slogan “one district, one product”.

In conclusion, Dr. Md. Mozibur Rahamn and Mr. Md. Sabur Khan conducted a question and answer session which elicited some questions and important guidelines from the audience. One important issue noted by a participant was that trade costs in agricultural products should be reduced immediately as Bangladesh has great potential in this sector.

The event was followed by lunch and participants were provided with a folder that included all the relevant documents in printed format.