Trade deficit widens further, crosses $18b in FY 18
The country’s trade gap widened further by 92.76 per cent in the just concluded fiscal year (FY18) due to higher import payments than lower export receipts. The trade gap with the rest of the world rose to $18.26 billion in the July-June period of the FY18 from $9.47 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the latest Bangladesh Bank (BB) statistics released on Monday. The trade deficit widened by 87.54 per cent in the first 10 months till April of the just concluded fiscal, added the statistics. The BB data showed that import jumped by more than 25 per cent while export recorded over 6.0 per cent growth during the June-July period of FY18. The overall import rose to $54.46 billion in the FY18 from $43.49 billion in the same period in FY17. In contrast, export income stood at over $36.20 billion in the last fiscal against $34.02 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.
Challenges for Bangladeshi exports to India
Bangladesh imported products worth US$48.21 billion and exported $34.85 billion during the year 2016-17. In 2016-17 fiscal year, Bangladesh imported 14 per cent more products than previous year, amounting to $6.50 billion and exported only $ $672.4 million worth of goods. This is 1.72 per cent less than the amount exported in 2015-2016 fiscal year. Bangladesh faces various other Non-Tariff Barriers (NTB) under categories of (1) Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, (2) Standardization, (3) Quality, (4) Quantity, (5) Classifications, (6) Understanding of law and regulation of each other country. After studying the trade in South Asia in 2015, Asian Development Bank (ADB) observed that the share of different trade barriers to SAARC countries are: (1) Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS), Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT), and Other Related Measures: 86 per cent, (2) Tariff Quota: 9.8 per cent, (3) Anti-Dumping Measures: 7.4 per cent, (4) License requirement: 5.3 per cent, (5) Countervailing measures: 1.2 per cent.
Excelerate starts re-gasifying imported LNG
The country has got its first re-gasified LNG as Excelerate Energy has started re-gasifying imported gas. The US-based company also initiated pumping LNG into the pipeline network from Sunday evening, said officials. Excelerate successfully moored its floating storage and regasification unit to its docking facility on the Moheshkhali Island terminal in the Bay of Bengal on August 5 and initiated pre-commissioning work subsequently. The vessel Excellence, carrying 136,000 cubic metre of lean LNG from Qatar, arrived at the terminal on April 24 and was due to start injecting gas into the pipeline network for consumption in Chattogram from May 7. The 30-km pipeline between Anwara and Fouzdarhat seems to be the major hurdle, while the 91 km segment of the pipeline between Moheshkhali and Anwara has already been completed and tested, which would facilitate supply of the initially re-gasified LNG to Chattogram, he added. It will charge US$ 0.49 per Mcf (1,000 cubic feet) against its service from the day one. Petrobangla will buy re-gasified LNG from the terminal on the take-or-pay basis, as per the contract. The FSRU, which has been moored at Moheshkhali Island, near the port of Chattogram, has the capacity of 3.75 million tonnes per year. According to S&P Global Platts Analytics forecasts Bangladesh’s LNG demand is set to exceed 10 million tonnes per year by 2023.
Citi holds forum on Belt and Road Initiative
Citibank NA Bangladesh has recently hosted a forum on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) underlining the bank’s commitment to support Bangladesh, global clients and investors with the opportunities offered by the programme launched by China. In the programme titled “Belt and Road Forum Bangladesh 2018”, James Morrow, Citi’s sub-cluster head for Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, outlined why Citi is focusing on BRI widely known as “One Belt One Road” initiative. We are banking with clients in 58 BRI markets, more than any other bank globally and we have over 100 years of history of operating across the countries along the Belt and Road,” said N Rajashekaran, managing director and Citi country officer for Bangladesh. With our local expertise and long-standing relationships with clients and regulators along the Belt and Road, it places Citi in an excellent position to be the partner of choice for clients as they move forward on the BRI,” said Johnson Yuan, head of corporate and investment banking for Citi Chin. Supporting and facilitating global trade is at the core of Citi. In the 1860s the bank supported the laying of the first transatlantic cable, in the 1900s the opening of the Panama Canal that brought trading nations closer together. Also covered during the event was an overview of Citi’s capabilities across the Belt and Road from areas such as corporate and investment banking, treasury and trade and forex solutions.
Increase bank branches to reach out to poor: Muhith
Banks should increase their number of branches to give a boost to financial inclusion, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday. All the banks together have less than 10,000 branches across the country. This is not enough to provide financial services to the country’s 16 crore people,” he told a workshop on the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) at the capital’s The Westin hotel. The central bank and the bank and financial institutions division of the finance ministry organised the workshop in association with the Business Finance for the Poor in Bangladesh (BFP-B) project funded by the UK Aid. The trend means that the entrepreneurs of the rural areas are being deprived of getting loans.” At least, 50 percent of the deposits from rural areas should be invested there, he added. The central bank and the finance ministry took an initiative in 2016 to develop a complete draft of NFIS with support from the UK government.
Market value of top 10 firms rises 10pc
The total market value of the top 10 listed companies has increased 10.18 percent year-on-year to Tk 146,717 crore in June thanks to strong performance. Grameenphone is the strongest performer in terms of absolute increase in market capitalisation, gaining 12.92 percent or Tk 6,008.83 crore in value. In the second quarter of 2018, the country’s leading mobile operator’s earnings per share soared 36.29 percent. It was followed by British American Tobacco and United Power Generation; their market capitalisation rose 22.2 percent and 48.41 percent respectively during the course of the year. Top five companies, in terms of market value as of June, are Grameenphone (market value Tk 52,513.16 crore), Square Pharmaceuticals (Tk 21,612 crore), BATBC (Tk 20,740.2 crore), Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (Tk 10,086.39 crore) and United Power Generation (Tk 9,965 crore). The top ten valued companies weigh in with 38.13 percent of the overall market capitalisation, up from 35.13 percent last year. Islami Bank, which occupied the tenth spot last year, came down to 12th. Summit Power entered the top 10 list this year.
Businesses have to use electronic fiscal devices from Nov 1
Some 13 types of businesses, including hotels, restaurants and supermarkets, will have to begin using electronic fiscal devices from November 1 this year to record transactions and issue sales receipts to customers, said the revenue authority. Businesses operating in district towns will have to start using EFDs, electronic fiscal printer (EFP) and point-of-sales (POS) from December 1, as per the order issued by the National Board of Revenue last week. The revenue authority’s directive comes two months after Finance Minister AMA Muhith shared the plan to make use of EFDs in his budget speech for the fiscal 2018-19 to combat VAT evasion at the retail level. The EFD, which will be connected with electronic fiscal device management systems (EFDMS) at the NBR, will replace the conventional electronic cash registers (ECR) that are now in use in many stores. The EFDs must be able to exchange data with EFDMS. Business will get code from EFDMS and issue sales receipts to customers. Each EFD will be registered against one Business Identification Number (BIN). But if a business uses two or more EFDs, all will be registered against a single BIN. If any business uses POS, the firm will have to have EFP and the device should have features to send data to EFDMS at the NBR.
Ease trade rules to attract more US investment
Bangladesh needs to reform its trade regulations for ease of doing business to attract more US investment. Bangladesh’s ease of doing business is way too low. There is good money to be made here, there are a lot of great partners but 42 steps to open a business. The US is also Bangladesh’s single largest export destination. In 2017, the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and the US stood at over $7 billion. US exports to Bangladesh grew 61 percent last year. Clearly, the US firms are strongly interested to invest in this promising market. The next level of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) talks will be held between September 13 and 14 in Washington where the bilateral trade issues would be discussed widely by both partners.
WB confirms $510m loan to improve secondary education
The World Bank has confirmed $510 million loan to enhance the quality and effectiveness of secondary education system of Bangladesh. Bangladesh government and the Washington-based lender signed a loan agreement on Monday in this regard.World Bank Acting Country Director Rajashree Paralkar and ERD secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam signed the deal at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in Dhaka. This will benefit 13 million students studying in grades 6-12,” the World Bank said in a statement on Monday. The government will utilise the loan for the US$17 billion cost “Secondary Education Development Program (SEDP). The program will provide training to 500,000 school teachers and school principals to enhance quality of secondary education. It will also support learning assessments of students in grade 6, 8 and 10 to identify learning gap and suggest policy actions. The Global Financing Facility (GFF) will provide a $10 million grant, which is aimed at improving adolescent health and school retention. The credit from the WB’s soft window – the International Development Association, which provides loan at 0.75 per cent interest rate with a 38-year maturity including a six-year grace period. The World Bank has so far committed nearly $28 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country.
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