It calls for policy support, short-term loans from affected traders
Bangladesh's imports from China fell 21% in January this year compared to the same month last year under the impact of coronavirus epidemic.
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) President Sheikh Fazle Fahim said this at a press briefing on novel coronavirus and overall trade situation held in the capital on Saturday.
The leader of the country's apex trade body urged that if any company failed to pay the bank loans in time because of the evolving situation, they should not be declared loan defaulter.
He called on the government for providing policy support to help the traders overcome the possible damage inflicted by the deadly virus.
The FBCCI president said, “If some companies fail to pay the bank loans in time, which is likely under the current situation, they should not be termed loan defaulter."
Fazle Fahim said that most of the raw materials used in Bangladesh’s textile and garments industries, spare parts and medical equipment were imported from different parts of China.
"The normal supply chain has been disrupted," he told the program.
According to FBCCI data, Bangladesh imported 6.72 lakh tons of goods in January in this year, which was 8.51 lakh tons in the same month last year, a decline by 1.79 lakh tons or 21.03%.
The FBCCI president urged policy support from government to face the coronavirus impacts as Bangladesh depended on China for raw materials and capital machinery for different sectors.
He also urged the banks to allow the LC holders, who already opened LC, to import materials from alternative sources (if they have any) in case of shipment delay or shipment was not possible immediately.
He also requested the banks concerned to provide short-term loan to the LC holders beyond the LC limit.
Fahim hoped, “We believe that with continued support from government, banks and other stakeholders in next three quarters, we would overcome this situation caused by a month-long supply disruption."
He also made a proposal to adopt national strategy through discussion with all concerned for supply chain security. “We have ensured energy and food security in long term; now it is time to set national strategy for supply chain.”
Former FBCCI president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and its vice president also were present the press briefing.
The coronavirus outbreak surfaced in December last year. The World Health Organization declared it an international health emergency on January 30.
The death toll from the coronavirus in mainland China hit 2,360 as of Saturday although the number of new cases fell, as the authorities tightened already severe containment measures in the worst-hit city of Wuhan.