Highlighting various steps of her government to attract FDI as well as flourish local industries, including the establishment of eight Special Economic Zones, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday sought the business community’s wholehearted participation in achieving the export target.
Addressing the inauguration of the 20th Dhaka International Trade Fair (DFIT-2015) at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, the Prime Minister noted that sites have been selected for eight Special Economic Zones across the country while around $ 6,823 million FDI came to Bangladesh over the last six years since 2009.
The work on upgrading the Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Mymensingh highways into four lanes would be completed by June next, while the Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane highway would be upgraded into a six-lane in the future, she added.
"The export target for the current fiscal year (2014-15) has been set at $ 33.20 billion, and I call upon all to work together to achieve this target. I want the businesspeople to work in full spirit to achieve the target," she said.
The Prime Minister said the average rate of export growth over the last five years was 14.90 percent which many neighbouring countries could not achieve.
"We won’t remain stuck here…we'll have to attain greater export growth," she said adding that her government did not assume office to do business rather to facilitate the businesses. She also expressed the hope to take the export earnings of RMG items to $ 50 billion by 2021.
Hasina said the various steps of the WTO taken for further liberalising trade to expand trade and commerce has at one hand created newer opportunities and facilities, but on the other hand has created various challenges and competitions.
"Keeping that in mind the challenges of WTO, from now onwards our businesspeople will have to take plans and steps on how to expand trade and enhance exports," she noted.
Noting that the country's export earnings have tripled in the last fiscal year totalling $ 30.19 billion compared to $ 10.12 billion fetched in 2005-06 fiscal year, Hasina said some 729 products are now being exported to some 192 countries across the world.
"We'll have to go for exploring newer markets and newer products ...we'll have to expand the export basket in a bid to enhance the export volume," she added.
Citing that comfort, trust and confidence have been restored in public mind after the January 5 polls as the Awami League government has retained office, the Prime Minister urged the people of the country, including the business community, to stay alert so that no one could play 'ducks and drakes' anymore with the fate of people.
The Prime Minister said burning people to death through setting fire to buses, CNGs and even the recent killing of female schoolteacher and burning of a mother and her children is not a movement rather it is a killing.
"No one wants to see anymore the politics of killing, terrorism and militancy in the country ...they rather to see expedite of the pace of development. The country’s people will have to remain alert to this end," she added.
Mentioning that a peaceful and tolerant environment is needed in all fields, including in business, Hasina said her government has been working relentlessly to maintain the business-friendly environment where the government would continue to extend all necessary cooperation.
Calling upon the private sector to take initiatives for improving the standard of own products, finding out the demand of potential exportable items to potential countries and so as their production and export, the Prime Minister said that her government would also lend necessary support to this end.
The Prime Minister noted that once Bangladesh becomes a mid-income country, then it would not get the due facilities as an LDC and for this the country's industries would have to attain international standards.
In this connection, she said there is a need for increasing productivity to survive in competition alongside improving the standard of products and further strengthening the efforts of branding.
Later, the Prime Minister visited different pavilions and stalls set up at the DITF-2015.
The fair is being held at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar on the west side of Bangabandhu International Conference Centre till January 31.
Some 14 countries -- India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia, Iran, Thailand, the USA, Turkey, Singapore, Australia, the UK, the UAE, South Korea and Germany -- along with Bangladesh are taking part in the fair.
Some 75-80 thousand visitors are expected to visit the fair regularly and there will be 97 pavilions with 58 mini pavilions apart from 516 stalls.
The fair will remain open from 10am to 10pm every day, and each visitor will have to pay Tk 30 as entry fee.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman on Ministry of Commerce Md Tajul Islam Chowdhury, Commerce Ministry Senior Secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, FBCCI President Kazi Akramuddin Ahmed spoke as special guests, while EPB Vice Chairman Shubhashish Bose delivered the welcome address.