Remittance falls 2.6% last fiscal
The country counted a 2.6% fall in inward remittances in the just-concluded fiscal year principally for slower development activities in the Middle East. According to the central bank statistics, released Monday, the inflow of remittances came down to USD 14.9 billion in the FY 2015-16 from USD 15.3 billion a year ago. “The flow of inward remittances decreased slightly in the last fiscal mainly due to weak development activities in the Middle-Eastern countries because of lower prices of petroleum products on the global market,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said to explain the downturn. The central banker said devaluation of the currencies of the United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia against the US dollar also worked as a damper to squeeze the flow of inward remittances. The Middle-Eastern countries are still the main sources of remittances for Bangladesh, according to the BB official. In the FY 15, Bangladeshi migrant workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Libya and Iran together contributed about 60.0% to the total USD 15.3 billion sent in by the migrant workers. The remittances from Bangladeshi nationals working abroad were estimated at USD 1.5 billion in June 2016, up by USD 248.2 million from the level of the previous month, for celebration of the Eid-ul-Fitr festival.
REPORT NON-SUBMISSION: BSEC seeks explanation from 14 merchant banks
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has issued show cause notice to 14 merchant banks for non-submission of monthly reports in violation of a BSEC instruction. The commission earlier in 2011 had asked all the merchant banks to submit a report on their activities, a BSEC official said. As per the commission instruction, the report must include a set of information including issue management activities, margin loan disbursement, clients equity position and percentage of clients equity in overall margin loan, merchant bank’s own equity investment position, cumulative capital gain or losses, portfolio management and underwriting status, year-end profit or losses of merchant banks and loans taken from parent company by the entity. The commission recently took an initiative to collect updated reports of the merchant banks with a view to verify different information including issue management status, BSEC executive director Saifur Rahman told New Age. A BSEC official said that the commission issued show cause notice to 14 merchant banks which do not submit monthly report to the market regulator as it was instructed earlier. The letter asked the entities to explain their position regarding non-submission of monthly reports within seven working days. The entities are: Asian Tiger Capital Partners Investment, Bengal Investment, Beta One Investment, CAPM Advisory, Citizen Securities and Investment, First Security Services, Green Delta Capital, Imperial Capital, Riverstone Capital, Royal Green Capital Market, Sandhani Life Finance, Sigma Capital Management, Sonar Bangla Capital Management and Swadesh Investment Management.
United States keeps Bangladesh out of GSP for 3rd year in a row
For the third year in a row, US has kept Bangladesh out of its GSP list of beneficiary countries for trade privileges on grounds of poor labour rights, according to Fibre2Fashion news service. Ten more countries — Ecuador, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Iraq, Niger, the Philippines, Thailand, Ukraine and Uzbekistan – also feature in this list, mostly on account of poor labour rights record. The list of beneficiaries for the Generalized System of Preferences scheme was updated last month by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the chief trade negotiation body for the US government. Bangladesh was suspended from the GSP scheme in April 2013 on grounds of shortcomings in workplace safety and poor labour rights in the garment sector after the infamous Rana Plaza fire tragedy in which more than 1,000 people perished. The Obama administration then provided Bangladesh a 16-point action plan to win back the trade benefits. Dhaka has already handed in its progress report on the action plan, but it fell short of the USTR’s expectations. “More needs to be done to regain the trade benefits,” it said. Bangladesh’s Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed declined to comment on the issue, media reports from Dhaka said. Before the suspension of GSP, Bangladesh used to annually export nearly USD 36.0 million worth of products to US under the 40-year-old GSP scheme, under which the US allows duty-free import to nearly 5,000 products from 122 beneficiary countries and territories. Trade preference programmes such as the GSP and African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have greatly helped in lifting people out of poverty and supporting growth in some of the poorest countries in the world, said US Trade Representative Michael Froman.
Food products show great export promise
Locally manufactured spices, biscuits, juices and drinks are fast gaining ground abroad thanks to a sizeable population of non-resident Bangladeshis. Take, for instance, the case of spices. In fiscal 2009-10, food processers shipped USD 3.9 million worth of cooking condiments. The amount swelled to USD 60.4 million in fiscal 2014-15, according to data compiled by Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association, a trade body of processed food exporters. Similarly, shipments of biscuits rose almost six times to USD 20.1 million in fiscal 2014-15 from five years earlier, and that of juice and drinks about five times to USD 66.9 million. Bapa data shows the four items accounted for about 65.0% of the total export earnings of USD 219.8 million in fiscal 2014-15. Exporters said the increase in the number of processed foods makers, cash incentive benefits provided by the government, better pricing and the quality of the locally made foods facilitated the growth. Today, Bangladeshi foods are being sold in 130 countries, ranging from Australia to the US. But the Middle Eastern countries, mainly the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which are home to hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, are the largest markets. New markets have also emerged in recent years. For instance, Pran, the country’s largest food processor and exporter, now ships to some African nations.
India company plans USD 3.0 billion investment in Bangladesh, Lanka
India’s biggest gas importer Petronet LNG aims to spend up to USD 3.0 billion in the next five years to expand overseas, setting up terminals in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka among other countries, its managing director said. Falling spot LNG prices have boosted consumption of the fuel in India and triggered demand for LNG infrastructure in countries long shut out of the gas trade. “We are thinking global and we are not looking inwardly only at India … we have potential and we should aim for 30.0 billion-40.0 billion rupees’ (USD 445.0 million-USD 596.0 million) worth of projects every year for five years,” Prabhat Singh told Reuters in an interview. Petronet has previously just focused on importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) for regasification at its plants at Dahej in Western Gujarat state and at Kochi in the southern state of Kerala. Singh said the company plans to invest 50.0 billion rupees to build a 5.0 million tons a year (mtpa) terminal at Kutbdia in Bangladesh and company officials would visit Bangladesh on July 23 to take the proposal forward.
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