SASEC SPS-TBT Diagnostic Study for Bangladesh: National Validation Meeting
26 Oct 2017
The Bangladesh Ministry of Commerce, together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) held a national validation meeting to share the draft final findings and recommendations of a national diagnostic study on sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBT), launched in September 2016 under the trade facilitation agenda of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program. The Bangladesh SPS-TBT national core group, and public and private stakeholders participated in the validation meeting on 26 October in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and provided comments and feedback on the draft for incorporation in the final diagnostic study.
Given the reduction in tariffs over the last 30 years due to multilateral and bilateral obligations as well as autonomous economic liberalization, increasing importance is directed toward addressing non-tariff measures, which occur frequently in the form of standards and technical regulations, especially SPS and TBT. Accordingly, SASEC members agreed to develop mutual cooperation processes in the diverse and challenging area of SPS-TBT-related issues to address these barriers. As a first step, national diagnostic studies are under preparation in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Wide-based stakeholder validation meetings are being held in each country as the draft final reports become available.
Outcomes of the Bangladesh validation meeting included:
- Presentation of patterns of Bangladesh import and export trade with other SASEC countries, and identification of the top potential export goods for each of the SASEC countries, noting the respective SPS-TBT measures;
- An overview of the legislative environment, of institutional arrangements and capacities, and of infrastructure capacities and constraints, for both SPS and TBT in Bangladesh;
- Identification of various and specific standards, regulations, and procedural obstacles that impede trade of the identified potential export commodities from Bangladesh with each of the other five SASEC countries, and clarification whether these obstacles are SPS-TBT-related, or due to other non-tariff measures and barriers;
- Discussion and additional suggestions on preliminary recommendations for how to address SPS-TBT-related challenges faced by Bangladesh.
Mr. Shubhashish Bose, Honorable Secretary, Ministry of Commerce delivered the inaugural address, noting that the SASEC SPS-TBT diagnostic study is of high importance to the Ministry of Commerce, given the huge potential markets within the SASEC region for Bangladesh exports, which remain subject to SPS-TBT measures. He shared that efforts are underway to diversify both the Bangladesh export product basket, and destination markets for Bangladesh, and that identifying specific products for potential export in the SPS-TBT diagnostic study, together with any relevant SPS-TBT measures or barriers, will contribute to these efforts. The diagnostic study will also be valuable in ongoing FTA negotiations between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
More than 40 participants from import-export trade-related government agencies and a wide spectrum of private sector associations and organizations participated in the validation meeting. Highly productive discussions concluded in additional inputs being agreed for the diagnostic
study, which will be finalized by the end of 2017. ADB supported the validation meeting under regional technical assistance funding.