The government will establish a national single window to facilitate trade, said Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, chairman of the National Board of Revenue.
He said the NBR will act as the lead agency of the window. He spoke at a roundtable on trade facilitation co-organised by International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh, ICC Paris and Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Bhuiyan said the NBR has undertaken a number of projects to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
At present, the ICC Paris in association with the Global Alliance is running a number of projects on trade facilitation in Vietnam, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Morocco. It plans to add 15 more countries, including Bangladesh, to the project.
The roundtable was part of the plan to identify a suitable project for Bangladesh, said the ICCB in a statement. The Alliance was launched at the World Trade Organisation's 10th Ministerial Conference in 2015.
The TFA, which is a binding multilateral trade agreement between members of the WTO, entered into force in February 2017. Bangladesh ratified the agreement in September 2016, said the statement.
Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose said Bangladesh is already pursuing a liberalised trading regime.
He said import licensing system was abolished in 1985 for all products other than those that require a special import permit for health, environment and other reasons. The number of pre-clearance signatures has gone down to five from 25 and export clearance time for 95 percent of consignments has been reduced from 72 hours in 1999 to three hours now.
The customs department is trying to further reduce the procedure and release time through automation, said the secretary.
Incepta Pharmaceuticals Managing Director Abdul Muktadir recommended setting up a help desk at the NBR to respond to queries related to harmonised system code and other information to facilitate both exports and imports.
Md Fazlul Hoque, managing director of Plummy Fashions, called for quick delivery of samples that are sent to exporters by buyers from the Dhaka Customs House.
He said delays in responding to queries of buyers lead to loss of business in most cases. “So, we have to be prompt in responding to the request of the buyers in order to be competitive.”
Mahbubur Rahman, president of the ICC Bangladesh, AK Azad, a former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Abul Kasem Khan, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, the banking commission chairman of the ICC Bangladesh, were also present.