13 and 15 September 2006

Concluding remarks by the Chairperson

See also:
> Press release: Good economic performance and reforms should lead to sustained growth

1. The third Trade Policy Review of Bangladesh has given us a much better understanding of Bangladesh 's trade policies and practices together with the challenges that it faces. I thank Secretary Feroz Ahmed and his delegation as well as the Discussant, Ambassador Stephenson of Canada , and Members of the TPRB for contributing to our fruitful exchange of views. Bangladesh 's response to a large number of questions is also appreciated.

2. Members commended Bangladesh 's efforts to ensure steady growth of GDP through prudent macroeconomic policies and reforms in certain areas, despite endogenous and exogenous challenges. While noting efforts to improve governance, certain Members encouraged Bangladesh to increase its capacity for revenue collection and move away from dependence on tariffs and other border charges as a main source of revenue. Some Members considered that there was room for progress in implementing privatization plans. Members congratulated Bangladesh on its increased Foreign Direct Investment inflows during the period under review and encouraged further improvements in the foreign investment framework. Members noted that Bangladesh 's comprehensive poverty reduction strategy had led to an improvement of certain social indicators, including the share of people living below the poverty line. Trade and trade policy measures were an integral part of these efforts.

3. In the light of Bangladesh 's heavy dependence on exports of clothing and strong global competition in the sector, certain Members recommended efforts to diversify the export base and markets. Bangladesh indicated that this was a priority and various facilities were being provided to exporters of non-traditional items.

4. Members noted Bangladesh 's deepening regional integration and other preferential arrangements in parallel with its efforts at the multilateral sphere; Bangladesh indicated that these initiatives were to, inter alia, expand its export market base. They also commended Bangladesh 's contribution to WTO work, including its leadership in the LDC group. Several Members took note of Bangladesh 's concerns over the decision at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference on duty-free quota-free market access for LDCs, in particular with respect to textiles and clothing. Certain Members enquired on the adequacy of and further needs for trade-related technical assistance available to Bangladesh during the period under review.

5. Members commended Bangladesh 's trade liberalization efforts, aimed at raising export competitiveness. Despite recognizing progress in simplifying the tariff structure and lowering applied ad valorem rates, Members encouraged Bangladesh to expand the scope of its bindings concerning non-agricultural tariff lines and to narrow the wide gap between bound and applied tariff rates. Several Members requested information on the state of revision of other border charges in line with WTO commitments. Action in these areas should improve market access predictability and transparency.

6. Some Members commended and encouraged further legal and regulatory reforms to ensure gradual implementation of WTO obligations, particularly in the area of intellectual property rights. This should contribute to attracting more foreign investment and increasing Bangladesh 's integration into the rules-based multilateral trading system.

7. There was also discussion, in particular about the risks posed to the Bangladeshi economy by the expiry of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing and about adjustment measures taken by Bangladesh in this respect; Bangladesh's non-endorsement of regional cumulation in the EC Rules of Origin for intermediate inputs from neighbouring countries in order to obtain a higher utilization of the EC-GSP scheme, including those for production of garments; and about policy measures concerning pharmaceuticals. In light of the importance of the services sector to the economy and its future development prospects, several Members urged Bangladesh to pursue progressive liberalization in this sector and to expand its GATS commitments.

8. This Review has been very useful in giving us all an overview of Bangladesh 's trade policies and practices and the challenges it faces. I would once again like to thank the Bangladeshi delegation for their efforts, the Discussant for his insightful comments, and Members for contributing to what has been a very enlightening two days of discussions. We look forward to receiving the remaining outstanding responses within the next month.