Agri sector subsidy to continue even after graduation from LDC: Razzaque

Published : 04 Jun 2023 09:48 PM

Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque today said the government will continue to subsidize agricultural sector even after the country's graduation from the least developed countries (LDCs), which will come into effect from 2026.

"I think, after the graduation from LDC, the export of agricultural products will not face much difficulty even if the quota-free, duty-free and other facilities end," he said at a seminar in the city.

The agriculture minister added: "We are giving importance to improving product quality, producing crops considering the global gap, and modernizing labs and packaging. This will facilitate the export of agricultural products".

Support to Sustainable Graduation Project (SSGP) of the Economic Relations Division (ERD) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) financed Bangladesh Trade Facilitation project jointly organized the seminar titled 'Impacts of LDC Graduation on the Agriculture Sector and the Way Forward', said a press release.

State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam spoke at the seminar as special guest with ERD Secretary Sharifa Khan in the chair. 

About onion import, Dr Razzaque said a decision will be taken regarding onion import within a few days. 

"We take decisions considering the interests of both farmers and consumers. Onion prices are now slightly higher. We are closely monitoring the market," he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Shamsul Alam said the withdrawal of LDC specific facilities after the graduation will create the compulsion for enhancing internal capacities.

 Sharifa Khan, in her speech, put emphasis on policy continuity for maintaining the growth in agricultural sector.

 She also informed that the government is pursuing with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to be included in the list of net food-importing developing countries after LDC graduation.

Additional Secretary of ERD Farid Aziz delivered welcome address at the event while Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) Chairman Dr Mohammad A. Razzaque presented the keynote paper on the findings of the USDA financed study titled "Implications of LDC Graduation for Bangladesh's Agricultural Exports: Issues and Policy Options". 

A Razzaque noted that the average tariffs on Bangladesh's agricultural exports might increase in major overseas markets after LDC graduation in the absence of Duty Free Quota Free (DFQF) facilities. 

In this context, he put emphasis on proactive engagement with trading partners to negotiate extended preferences, enhancing the capacity of domestic firms, and reducing the cost of doing business to address the LDC graduation challenges.

Former Member of Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) Dr Mostafa Abid Khan delivered a presentation on "Bangladesh's Obligation under WTO Agreement on Agriculture: Before and After Graduation from LDC Status" at the seminar.

Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Md Tofazzel Hossain, Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension Md Tajul Islam Patwary, Political and Economic Counselor of the US Embassy in Dhaka Scott Brandon and Director of PRAN-RFL Group Uzma Chowdhury spoke as panelists at the seminar. 

USDA financed Bangladesh Trade Facilitation Project Director Michael J Parr mentioned in his vote of thanks that the USDA would provide necessary technical assistance to Bangladesh in facilitating agricultural trade through process simplification, management process automation, capacity building of food and chemical laboratories, and encouraging investment to improve the cold chain system.

Senior officials from government ministries, agencies and research institutions, representatives from development partners, agricultural and trade associations, and agribusinesses attended the seminar.