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Dhaka Tribune

WTO deal only the first step

Update : 09 Dec 2013, 06:45 PM

Bangladesh’s delegation to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in Bali deserves praise for helping the WTO to increase the level of duty-free and quota-free market access for developing countries in the world’s leading markets.

Consensus has been reached on a deal which seeks to improve terms of trade and slash customs red tape, while allowing developing countries to retain subsidies for welfare programs to feed the poor.

This agreement is however only the start. In order to fully benefit from the changes, Bangladesh and other developing countries still need to negotiate enhanced trade facilities with other states. The Bali deal merely provides a clearer framework. Progress needs to be furthered on agreements such as TICFA in order to reap the benefits with countries such as the US. 

Some estimates suggest the deal will reduce the cost of doing business by 10% to 15% and thereby provide a $1tn boost to annual global trade. However, this is only a crude average. Bangladesh faces many trade barriers in the SAARC region, notably with India, the removal of which could boost the economy as much as improved deals with China or the EU. 

The scale of the task remaining should not be underestimated therefore. Whether measured in terms of the size of the country’s exports or the size of its economy, 10% to 15% growth represents billions of dollars.  Such amounts will not just magically flow through our doors. Exporters need to keep raising their game and the government needs to be vigilant in representing the country’s interests in trade negotiations, in order to allow the economy to compete and grow.

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