Govt draws up plan to face impact of LDC graduation

Star Business Report ….

The government has prepared a plan to face the impact of Bangladesh’s graduation from the least developed country’s category on trade and foreign aid and discussed it with the United Nations.

A 13-member delegation led by Planning Minister MA Mannan had a meeting with the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation at the UN headquarters in New York during their visit from July 9 to 19.

The delegation also discussed the latest development on LDC graduation during a meeting with the officials of the UN Committee for Development Policy (UNCDP).

The CDP lauded Bangladesh’s preparation for the graduation due in 2024, saying the country’s experience can be an example for other nations, according to a statement of the Economics Relations Division (ERD) yesterday.

The committee assured Bangladesh of active support so that the country can retain various international benefits extended to the LDCs after their graduation, it said.  

Prof Shamsul Alam, member of the General Economics Division under the planning commission who took part in the meetings, briefed the media about the outcome of the visit during at a press conference at the National Economic Council in Dhaka yesterday.

He said the government has prepared a draft report on the possible impacts on Bangladesh after the graduation.

“We will be able to weather any kind of pressure that appears after the graduation,” Prof Alam said.

He, however, declined to share the report until the government approves it.

Among the losses, the number of scholarships for Bangladeshis will reduce and the contribution of Bangladesh to the UN will double when the country becomes a developing country.

Monowar Ahmed, secretary of the ERD, said Bangladesh would have to adopt a plan to face the challenges in the post-graduation period as per UN requirement.

He said the amount of concessional loans would decline but total loans would increase. Trade facilities will be withdrawn, he said.

However, he said Bangladesh would enjoy all the existing benefits granted to LDCs until 2027.

Ahmed said development plans have been formulated for all the regions in the country to face the challenges.

Bangladesh became eligible for the graduation in March last year after it met all three criteria set by the CDP.

The CDP will review Bangladesh’s progress in 2021, and after a three-year transition period, official graduation from the LDC category will take place.

Bangladesh is likely to lose about $2.7 billion in export earnings every year once it graduates, the ERD said in a preliminary report last year that assessed the impact of graduation.

Upon graduation, exports will be subject to 6.7 percent additional tariff as duty- and quota-free benefits from different countries and trading partners will be withdrawn.

At present, Bangladesh is a major user of duty-free and quota-free market access, with shipments under this facility accounting for 72 percent of the total exports in fiscal 2015-16, the ERD report said. The delegation from Bangladesh also took part in several meetings on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Bangladesh will require huge funds to implement the SDGs and it was pointed out in the meetings.

The planning minister said Bangladesh does not expect external aid to implement the SDGs. “We will have to mobilise the necessary funds from domestic sources by way of raising revenue collection.”

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