Friday, 24 September, 2021; 5:45 pm
Latin America is the group of 20 sovereign states including several territories and dependencies. It has an area of roughly 19,197,000 square km nearly 13% of the earth’s land surface area. The total population of Latin American countries is around 650 million. Latin American Countries are emerging to be geo-economically and geo-strategically important today.
Bangladesh has recently entered into the group of lower middle-income countries including 160 million local consumers. The country is also eager to diversify its geographical engagement of economic activities. In spite of having enormous trade and business potentials in most of the Latin American countries, Bangladesh has failed to explore the opportunities primarily due to the lack of information and long distance.
However, economic relations between Bangladesh and Latin American countries are growing over time. In the FY 2014-15, Bangladesh export to Latin American countries was US$ 454.58 million and import into Bangladesh was US$ 1513.54 million. The export of Bangladesh to Latin America is only 1.5% of the total export and import of Bangladesh from Latin America is only 3.5% of the total import.
The export items from Bangladesh to Latin American Countries includes woven garments, knitwear, specialized textile, pharmaceutical, home textile, footwear, raw jute and jute goods, electrical and electronic equipment, melamine, bicycle, shipbuilding, etc. The import items from Latin American countries to Bangladesh includes coffee, cotton, sugar, aluminum and articles thereof, electronics devices, petroleum and petroleum products, soybeans, silver, gold, medical devices, etc.
At present out of total Latin American countries, only six countries including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Peru are covering 94% of total export of Bangladesh and five countries including Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay dominate 98% of total import of Bangladesh.
The statistics implies that the trade is still insignificant relative to the total trade of Bangladesh and there is huge untapped potential to enhance trade cooperation with the Latin American counterparts.
Both Bangladesh and Latin American countries can be benefited by the further trading of the above items at a competitive cost. Latin American countries may invest here as the government of Bangladesh is setting up a total of 100 special economic zones (SEZs) in different parts throughout the country and also presented an ample range of incentives for foreign investors in particular. Moreover, Bangladesh still enjoys the least developed country (LDC) facilities including zero tariff facilities in the world market in general. Bangladesh can progress in trade and commerce by keeping close contact with the newly established a Latin American trade bloc namely ‘Pacific Alliance’ for further integration with the countries of the region. The export volume of Bangladesh will increase significantly and be able to involve yourself in the global supply chain by exploring the unlocking potentials of trade and commerce between Bangladesh and Latin American countries.
An important constraint to trade between Bangladesh and Latin American counterparts is the absence of the most of the Latin American missions in Dhaka and vice-versa. To capitalize the vast potential for trade cooperation, we have to undertake a special joint study on how to strengthen the economic relationship between Bangladesh and Latin American countries, how to remove existing trade and investment barriers, and how to support greater cooperation.
To accrue the greater benefits of trade between Bangladesh and Latin American counterparts, we have to establish common accreditation board for the acceptance of standards of the Bangladeshi products to the Latin American countries. Furthermore, we need to set up institutional facilities including business centre, cultural centre and more foreign missions between countries. Participating in trade fair and attending in different discourses are also the important issue for enhancing trade and commerce between countries. In this connection, visa procedure needs to simplify for business persons and multiple visas may be issued for business people.
We can work together for easy market access by addressing the tariff structure, non-tariff barriers as well as achieving preferential trading arrangements (PTAs) on reciprocally favorable conditions. However, exchanging information and increasing people-to-people contact between Bangladesh and Latin American counterparts can be offered a new window which unlocks potentials of economic development of the two regions. In this way, Bangladesh will realize its goal to turn the country into a middle-income economy by 2021 and a developed one by 2040.
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