Webinar on “Sustainable export growth in post-LDC world: strategies for the plastic sector”

For a sustainable development of plastic sector after post-LDC era, speakers urged for easing duty structure on importing of plastic raw materials, modernization of respective policies, encouraging uses of bio-plastic, signing FTA or PTA with potential countries, increasing negotiation skills, protecting domestic market, product diversification, development of plastic waste management system, technological advancement, enhancing accredited world class testing lab facilities, innovative product designing, ensuring business friendly environment to attract FDI, central bonded warehouse facility, tax incentives, coordination among government agencies, easy access to finance and investment on research and development.

Speakers put emphasis on these issues at a webinar on “Sustainable export growth in post-LDC world: strategies for the plastic sector” organized by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) on 9th April, 2022. Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus joined the webinar as the chief guest. Dhaka Chamber President Rizwan Rahman chaired the event. FBCCI President Md. Jashim Uddin joined as special guest.

President of Dhaka Chamber Rizwan Rahman in his opening remarks said that plastic sector witnessed a rapid commercialization and became an important export item of Bangladesh. Export of plastic goods contributes 0.33% to the GDP. Around 5,110 companies are operational in plastic sector and 98% of them are SMEs. To ensure sustainable industrial growth, a draft Plastic Policy was developed by the Government. Since many preferences will not exist in post-LDC era, FTA and RTAs can be signed with the potential countries. On the other hand, an enabling tariff regime is needed to support raw material import in the post-LDC time. Moreover, specific incentive plan is needed in the new policy to promote bio-plastic. Ensuring a sustainable export market requires competitiveness by improving efficiency in production and market access. He said that we need to replicate the RMG success model to other export-led manufacturing sectors as well. Product diversification is essential while changing raw materials to recycled plastic waste as viable alternative, he added.

Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister said that the existing nexus between the public and private sector is very strong than ever that leads Bangladesh to a new height. In order to identify various prospects and challenges in the plastic sector, he suggested to form a national taskforce combining public and private sector participation. He also urged upon for a better plastic waste management solution. He said we should have our own certification agency and for establishing that he termed PPP model can be a best option. For certification now we are spending a lot of money. In a modern world, we cannot avoid using plastics rather we should go for 100% recycling to minimize pollution, he added. He also echoed with other speakers that the freight charge and logistic cost for export of plastic sector is really high that needs to be come down. At present the relation between the bureaucracy and private sector is very cordial and he assured the private sector that government is very much committed to reform any policy at any time that hinders trade and investment.

Md. Jashim Uddin, President, FBCCI said that in the plastic sector there are many challenges but the entrepreneurs of this sector are very resilient to overcome these. But he said that we need world class accredited testing lab, proper policy support with intellectual property rights (IPR) policy and innovation in design and development. He also called upon to declare this plastic sector as a green industry. In order to facilitate 100% recycling he suggested for an extensive collection mechanism/system under the guidance of city corporations. He also demanded for an equal corporate tax rate for all exporters; at present which is 30% for the plastic industry, he said. We need to expand backward linkage and sub-contracting industry in this sector so that small producers can grow and able to provide thousands of components to the large industries.

Shamim Ahmed, President, Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA) presented the keynote paper. He highlighted that in FY2020-21 total export of plastic sector including direct and deemed was more than USD 1 billion. The domestic market size of this sector is of USD 3 billion. The sector itself creates 1.5 million employments. Plastic is the 8th largest export earning sector (including direct and deemed export) in Bangladesh which has been expanding 4.5% per annum. He termed access to finance, central bonded warehouse, skilled workforce, credible testing facility, diversity, plastic waste management are some of the major challenges of this sector. In the post-LDC period, the sector will lose competitiveness, duty free market access, subsidy or incentives and will have to follow stringent compliances. He thus recommended for reforming import-export policies highlighting the needs of LDC graduation. He also stressed on the importance of attracting foreign investors as they are very keen to come, patent registration and IPR ecosystem, innovative product design, skills development and investment for research and development. He also requested to withdraw 5% supplementary duty on plastic sector.

Dr. Md. Shahidul Islam, Member (Customs), NBR emphasized on re-using single-used plastic items to reduce pollution and costing. He also stressed on more value addition, diversification, quality assurance of products and establishing our own innovative design houses. Besides, for the development of the plastic sector he underscored the importance of smoother coordination among the government agencies. If we cut down the lengthy customs procedures at the time of import at the port, it would ensure ease of doing business and cost minimization, he also mentioned.

Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, CEO, PRAN RFL Group said that at present our recycling capacity is growing at a faster pace. At present our plastic products are being exported to Germany, Australia and USA but we should work on reducing freight charge or shipping cost to be more competitive, he added. He further requested to slash duty on import of plastic raw materials to help increase export. He also raised his voice to take necessary measures to safeguard the domestic plastic market as well.

Dr. Ijaz Hossain, Retired Professor of Chemical Engineering, BUET said that plastic waste management, recycling and re-use are crucial for this sector. He also said that we should have standardization and certification lab to increase plastic export. Moreover, he urged upon for skilled workforce as well as increasing export items in this sector.

Published on: 2022-04-09

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