U.S. Ambassador Earl R. Miller joined Minister Tipu Munshi at the inauguration ceremony held at the Hotel InterContinental Dhaka. Minister of Commerce Tipu Munshi launched the “Bangladesh Trade Facilitation”, a new agriculture and economic development project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The $27 million projects support the Government of Bangladesh to implement the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement in the areas of simplifying and automating import and export processes, strengthening risk-based clearance processes, improving notification provisions, developing the capacity and testing procedures of laboratories, and enhancing the cold chain system for facilitating trade of perishable goods.
Land O’Lakes Venture37, aU.S. based not-for-profit economic and agricultural development organization implements the project, bringing together the agencies supervising and providing trade services including the WTO Cell and the National Trade Facilitation Committee of the Ministry of Commerce; National Board of Revenue; Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock; Department of Fisheries and Department of Livestock Services of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock; Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution of the Ministry of Industries; Plant Quarantine Wing of Department of Agricultural Extension and Department of Agricultural Marketing of the Ministry of Agriculture; Bangladesh Food Safety Authority; Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission; and key private sector stakeholders. The goal is to increase Bangladesh’s ability to expand and diversify its exports, ensure the safety and quality of imported food items, and improve its institutional systems for agricultural trade.
Minister Munshi attended the event as the Chief Guest, and he emphasized the government’s “commitment to ensure self-sufficiency in food production, supply safe and nutritious food as well as commercialize the agriculture sector, making it a profitable venture for poor farmers.”
Noting the investment from the American people, Ambassador Miller, in turn, confirmed the U.S. Government’s support for Bangladesh’s reform measures and promotion of a business-friendly trade environment. “This project will facilitate and incentivize investment, construction, and the operation of new cold storage facilities to improve and expand on Bangladesh’s refrigerated logistics network,” Ambassador Miller said.
The Ministry of Commerce coordinates TFA implementation for the Government of Bangladesh, and Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh explained that the WTO Cell of the Ministry of Commerce would work closely with Land O’Lakes Venture37. Mr. Tapan Kanti Ghosh stated that he expected the government’s trade agencies will also collaborate to implement the important WTO TFA measures and that the USDA project will help integrate systems to do so. He emphasized partnerships, saying, “I also expect that the project will focus on building partnerships between the public and private sector and other development partners.”
Recognizing the strong economic ties between the United States and Bangladesh, Abdul Kasem Khan, Chairperson, Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) congratulated Minister Munshi and Ambassador Miller for creating opportunities for agro-food industries. Mr. Khan stated that importing and exporting businesses stand to gain a lot from more efficient trade procedures. “Businesses demand predictable and harmonized processes and highly value transparency. Global trade opportunities and investments in strategic industries will play a significantly important role in Bangladesh’s further growth aspiration to become an upper-middle-income and a developed country,” he said.
The Bangladesh Trade Facilitation Project is a five-year initiative that will promote policy reform, and provide technical, logistical, and technological assistance to Government of Bangladesh agencies and agricultural and food industry stakeholders. The goal is to make importing and exporting agricultural products more efficient. Each project activity addresses one or more WTO TFA measures and the objectives are aligned with the country’s Eighth Five-Year Plan, Promoting Prosperity and Fostering Inclusiveness.