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Bangladesh inks financing agreement with the WB to boost trade

Bangladesh inks financing agreement with the WB to boost trade

DHAKA: Bangladesh inked a $150 million financing agreement with the World Bank last week to modernize trade related infrastructure, systems and procedures in order to boost the south Asian country’s regional connectivity and trade with India, Bhutan and Nepal.
The Bangladesh Regional Connectivity Project 1 will develop and improve the four land ports of Bhomra, Sheola, Ramgarh and Benapole, the World Bank said.
These improvements will help Bangladesh increase trade and freight volumes, and decrease truck clearance time at border posts, according to the World Bank. The project will also establish a national single window, allowing traders to submit all import, export and transit information required by Customs and other regulatory agencies via a single electronic gateway.
In addition, the project will pilot activities to help eliminate bottlenecks faced by women in trade and business. “To bring more women traders into formal trade networks and global value chains, the project will pilot skills development programs and analyze and eventually develop specific infrastructure, logistics and transport services for women,” the World Bank said.
The credit comes from World Bank’s concessional lending arm, the International Development Association. “The credits are interest-free and repayable in 38 years, including a six-year grace period, and carry a service charge of 0.75 percent,” the World Bank said.
“Bangladesh has enormous potential to increase trade with its neighbors, particularly India,” World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan said. “Currently, its trade with India is only less than half of its current potential.”
“Bangladesh has doubled its world market share in exports between 1995 and 2012, and more than doubled in value in the last five years. But, the potential is much higher,” Government of Bangladesh Secretary, Economic Relations Division Kazi Shofiqul Azam said. “Geographically, Bangladesh can play an important role in regional trade and logistics networks, and as a transit country in South Asia. The project will help Bangladesh take advantage of its strategic location to increase exports and lower import costs.”