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Govt seeks trade bodies' views on virus fallout

18 trade bodies given three days to submit reports

FE REPORT | March 26, 2020 00:00:00

The government has sought opinions from the country's trade bodies about the possible impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the overall trade and economy and the necessary course of action to cope with the challenge, officials said.

"We have asked all trade bodies concerned to submit their opinions in three days to help the government take necessary measures to cope with any untoward situation," an official of the commerce ministry said.

"We have sought their opinions regarding impact of the virus outbreak on the industrial sector, export-import, production sector and other areas concerned," he added.

The commerce ministry sent letters to 18 trade bodies on March 23 in this connection, he also mentioned.

Earlier, the apex trade-body FBCCI sought opinions from its member associations regarding the possible impact of coronavirus outbreak on the country's business, trade and economy, a source concerned said.

The FBCCI took the initiative in line with a recent directive of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) given in a meeting with the apex trade-body on February 6, he added.

"We have sought their opinions regarding possible impact of the outbreak on supply and prices of essential items, export-import, basic and medium industrial raw materials, finished products, industrial production, services sector, etc," the official mentioned.

Recently, the Business Promotion Council (BPC) that operates under the MoC, after a meeting with the trade bodies representing the affected sectors, sent a set of recommendations to the parent ministry recently.

It suggested providing special financial incentives to the coronavirus-affected sectors to help them offset the impacts.

According to officials, the BPC had sought assessment reports from the trade bodies to let the government know the extent of negative effect of the virus outbreak.

The Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association in its letter said exports were facing disruptions due to the spread of this disease.

The sector leaders estimated the initial financial loss at Tk 400 million which, according to them, might increase further.

Bangladesh Tanners Association in its submission said the sector members could not ship 150 containers of leather immediately after the virus spread.

It might cause a financial loss to the tune of Tk 2.40 billion to the tanners, it said.

Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association in a letter said the virus epidemic already broke the chain of supply from China.

Raw materials, machinery and equipment have become dearer, it cited.

The sector was forced to reschedule its annual International Plastic Fair-2020 due to the coronavirus scare.

Bangladesh Live and Chilled Food Exporters Association said crab and eel exports to China, the main market of the items, have been remaining suspended since January 25.

Even many factories are set to face closure, thus putting the livelihood of thousands of people at risk, it observed.

In a letter, Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters Association said exports to Europe and the Middle East declined for the same reason.

Earlier, Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission said nearly 60 per cent fabrics used by the woven sub-sector are imported from China, the initial epicentre of the pathogen.

Besides, 15 to 20 per cent raw materials and 80 to 85 per cent dyeing chemicals and accessories of the knitwear sector come from China, it reported.

The commission said the negative impact of coronavirus on this sector has already started showing as the supply chain is facing disruptions. After receiving reports from trade bodies, the BPC said various industrial sectors are facing severe challenges due to the supply chain disruptions.

The sectors need immediate support from the government, it mentioned.

The leather sector needs special incentive, bank loans on easy terms and simple payment schedule for previous loans, it said.

The BPC also suggested providing assistance in creating new markets for crab and eel.

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