Following the opening of letters of credit (LC), importers in Bangladesh are allegedly facing an additional charge of Tk12 per dollar when exchanging dollars to taka in commercial banks to release their imported items. Business leaders raised these concerns during a meeting of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in the capital, Motijheel, with Chamber President Mahbubul Alam in attendance.
Mehdi Ali, chairman of the FBCCI standing committee on export, stated that even if an LC is opened at Tk110 (dollar rate) for the import of raw materials or machinery, the commercial banks change the conversion rate to Tk120-122 per dollar when releasing the goods from the ports. Some banks allegedly even charge extra money during the LC opening process. The significant gap of more than Tk10 per dollar is affecting the competitiveness of traders in the export market, leading to increased prices of products in the local market.
During the meeting, business leaders also expressed concerns about potential losses in the export sector if incentive facilities for export-oriented industries, such as the readymade garment industry, are discontinued. The recent reduction of cash incentives for exports by Bangladesh Bank has already raised apprehensions among entrepreneurs in the export sector.
Leaders of the garment and textile sector reportedly met with Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali to express their concerns over the issue.
In another meeting of the FBCCI standing committee on ports and shipping, speakers called for the reduction of complexity in the import-export process for goods and raw materials. They highlighted that the ongoing global crisis has significantly increased business operating costs in the country, causing local entrepreneurs to lag behind in international market competition. FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam emphasized the importance of quickly addressing the existing problems in the import-export process and suggested that the standing committee on exports could play a crucial role in dealing with the current dollar crisis.
BGMEA, MAQI Technology Group Join Forces to Transform Bangladesh’s RMG Industry
In a strategic move to enhance the capabilities and competitiveness of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has forged a partnership with MAQI Technology Group Co Ltd. The collaboration announced at a ceremony held at Radisson Blu in Dhaka, focuses on integrating cutting-edge technology, advanced machinery, and skill development for RMG workers.
BGMEA President Faruque Hassan, attending the event as the chief guest, emphasized the significance of the partnership in elevating the skills and expertise of RMG workers in operating advanced machines. The goal is to empower these workers with the latest skills essential for excelling in garment sewing.
The partnership aims to provide comprehensive training programs, establish modern lab facilities equipped with Euromac’s state-of-the-art machines and technology. These facilities will serve as platforms where aspiring sewing workers can refine their craft under the guidance of experienced instructors.
Euromac, a key player in providing advanced machines, will extend technical support to both BGMEA and the BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology (BUFT). This collaboration aims to develop the skills and knowledge of industry workers and BUFT students, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic landscape of garment manufacturing.
Faruque Hassan underscored the industry’s commitment to leveraging technology, skills, and innovation to diversify products and capture higher-value segments in the global fashion market. He highlighted the pivotal role of technology and skills development in ensuring the industry’s relevance and sustainability amid evolving market dynamics. The partnership reflects a forward-looking approach to position Bangladesh’s RMG industry at the forefront of technological advancement and global competitiveness.
Nepal-Bangladesh Power Sale Agreement Hits Impasse Over Tariff Negotiations
In a setback to the anticipated power trade between Nepal and Bangladesh, negotiations have hit a roadblock as Bangladesh pushes for a reduction in the prices quoted by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).
The Kathmandu Post, citing sources from NEA officials and Nepal’s energy ministry, reported that Bangladesh is aiming to lower the quoted price through negotiations, leading to a temporary halt in the inaugural power trade between the two neighboring countries until a tariff agreement is reached.
An NEA official revealed, “After Nepal maintained that the quoted price was reasonable, the Bangladeshi side expressed the desire to engage in discussions with higher authorities.”
A recent delegation led by NEA’s executive director, Kul Man Ghising, visited Bangladesh in an attempt to resolve the disagreement. The exact tariff proposed by Nepal has not been disclosed, but NEA sources suggest it’s around 7 cents per unit.
“I heard that the Bangladeshi side aimed to negotiate the rate down to 5 cents per unit,” said an energy ministry official anonymously to The Kathmandu Post.
Previously, NEA’s Deputy Managing Director, Pradeep Kumar Thike, drew a comparison between Nepal’s proposed price and an Indian company’s payment for a medium-term power purchase agreement last year.
Despite the rate dispute leading to the delegation’s return to Nepal, NEA officials remain optimistic about reaching a consensus in future talks. Managing Director Pradeep Kumar stated, “They are ready to buy, and we are ready to sell. The talks have been positive, and we are hopeful for a final agreement in the upcoming meeting.”
The joint statement issued on February 22 emphasized both parties’ intent to expedite a power sale agreement, facilitating Nepal’s electricity export during the upcoming rainy season. NEA’s proposal aims to export 40MW of power from June 15 to November 15, with the agreement set for a five-year duration, utilizing cross-border transmission lines.
India has also agreed in principle to support the export of 40MW power from Nepal to Bangladesh. The three nations anticipate signing a tripartite deal upon reaching a tariff agreement, marking Nepal’s first-ever power export to Bangladesh. The tripartite agreement was initially planned during the energy secretary-level joint steering committee meeting in May last year, involving NEA, Bangladesh Power Development Board, and NVVN.
World Bank MD Pledges Strong Support for Bangladesh’s Economic Vision
Anna Bjerde, World Bank Managing Director for Operations, concluded her inaugural visit to Bangladesh, reaffirming the bank’s robust commitment to assisting the country in achieving its goal of attaining upper-middle-income status by 2031. Emphasizing the urgent need for profound macroeconomic and financial sector reforms to sustain inclusive growth, Bjerde conveyed this message during meetings with Bangladesh’s leadership.
In a press release, the World Bank highlighted the significance of Bangladesh’s economic growth and development, considering it an inspiration for many countries. Bjerde urged swift and bold reforms in monetary and fiscal policies to ensure macroeconomic stability, mitigate financial sector risks, and sustain inclusive growth amid global uncertainties.
During her visit, Bjerde met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, commending the country’s development achievements. She expressed gratitude to the prime minister for providing shelter to displaced Rohingya people and pledged ongoing support for addressing their needs until their safe and voluntary return, along with those of the host community.
Discussions between the World Bank and the Bangladesh government include a financing program exceeding $650 million for two new projects addressing the needs of both displaced Rohingya and host communities in the Chattogram division. Nearly half of the financing is allocated for displaced Rohingya people, entirely on grant terms.
Bjerde emphasized the pride in the longstanding partnership with Bangladesh, contributing to lifting millions out of poverty. The commitment involves continued support for job creation, private sector development, investment attraction, climate resilience, and crisis preparedness while ensuring inclusivity.
Throughout her visit, Bjerde engaged with the finance minister, Bangladesh Bank governor, senior government officials, private sector representatives, civil society leaders, and women entrepreneurs to discuss Bangladesh’s development priorities. The World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region, Martin Raiser, accompanied her.
Since Bangladesh’s independence, the World Bank has committed approximately $41 billion in International Development Association financing, making it the world’s largest ongoing IDA program. The World Bank remains Bangladesh’s largest development partner.
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