Experts at a seminar in the city on Wednesday laid emphasis on working out an inclusive strategy to effectively tackle extreme poverty, inequality and weak economic governance for Bangladesh’s smooth and sustainable graduation as a developing country.
They also said diversifying the export basket, exploring newer markets, enhancing technological graduation, developing human resources, achieving resource efficiency and improving productivity alongside ensuring foreign assistance with development priorities are also crucial for Bangladesh to prepare itself for its smooth graduation.
The experts also think there is a need for stepping up global partnership to support Bangladesh’s development initiatives and advance implementation of international action programmes for minimising the challenges of the LDC graduation.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs arranged the seminar titled ‘Bangladesh’s Graduation from LDCs: Opportunities and Challenges and Imperatives’ at its auditorium.
Speaking at the programme, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said Bangladesh is absolutely on the right track to graduate from the LDC group. “We’ll continue our efforts for a sustainable advancement of the country. Bangladesh is one of the two LDC countries which have met all the three criteria for the graduation.”
The minister said the country will face some challenges in its journey for the next phase of development. We need to make a greater progress in reducing under-nourished population,” he said.
Once Bangladesh gets out of LDC in 2024, he said, it will be given three years’ transition time before it loses duty- and quota-free access to European countries. “Also the benefits of technological cooperation and other forms of assistances such as scholarship and training facilities will be ruled out.”
It has been estimated that, Mahmood Ali said, Bangladesh is likely to lose $2.7 billion every year from export earnings after the graduation to a developing country. “However, we’ve seen Bangladesh has been tackling Rohingya crisis and some other challenges with the cooperation of the international community.”
He said the government is making various efforts while the private sector is diversifying the export basket for the further advancement of the country.
Speaking at the programme, WFP Country Director and UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Christa Rader said Bangladesh has done well to meet the graduation thresholds for all the three criteria.
She, however, said graduation is not the wining post of a race, but rather the first milestone in the marathon of development transformation. “While this graduation will bring lots of opportunities, it’ll have its challenges as well.”
Christa Rader said though Bangladesh achieved tremendous success in reducing extreme poverty since the 1990s, there remain 20 million people who can hardly make ends meet.
She said Bangladesh’s strategic partnership with the global community is required to facilitate a smooth graduation strategy, including the implementation and monitoring of a roadmap, partnership between the private and public sectors, and a strong alignment of development partner policies with the national development strategy.
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) distinguished fellow Prof Mustafizur Rahman said Bangladesh is in a very comfort zone for having the country graduated from the LDCs as its position regarding meeting the graduation thresholds for all the three criteria is very solid.
He said the next challenges for the country are not only to look at the three criteria but also to reduce inequality and ensure an inclusive development and society. “This the era of SDGs and the SDGs talk about leave no one behind, equitable society and social inclusiveness. So, we must work out policies for LDCs graduation focusing inclusive development.”
The CPD distinguished fellow also said the country should accelerate its achievements so that it can help the nation have the graduation with a great momentum. “Our graduation should be sustainable one with proper policies so that we don’t fall behind again. We need to reduce vulnerability and enhance capability.”
He said the international community will closely observe and assess in the days to come the strategies and actions to be taken by Bangladesh for its graduation. “I suggest taking those as an opportunity to find out where we need global support for our advancement.”
Prof Mustafizur also said Bangladesh’s well-designed policies and strategies for graduation of developing countries will also help it achieve the SDGs by 2030.