Bangladesh has taken an initiative to identify the services sectors having export potentials and possibilities in getting preferential market access from the developed countries under services waiver scheme of the World Trade Organisation. At a meeting with the stakeholders to gather information about the services are being currently exported, identify potentials, needs and possibilities in export of services and service suppliers held on Monday, the commerce ministry decided to complete information gathering by May 15, officials said.
A report to be prepared based on the information will be sent to the Bangladesh mission in Geneva, Switzerland and the mission will forward it to the WTO, they said.
At the eighth WTO ministerial conference held in Geneva in December 2011, the WTO members agreed on a waiver allowing the developing and developed member states to provide preferential treatment to services and service providers of the least developed members.
The waiver will be for at least 15 years once it is adopted.
As part of operationalising the waiver, LDC Group of WTO is collecting information about services exported by the LDCs and the issue will be discussed at the ninth ministerial conference to be held at Bali, Indonesia on December, 2013.
‘The WTO has sought information on services Bangladesh is exporting now, mode of supply of services, main export destinations and future potentials, needs and possibilities of services export,’ Nesar Ahmed, director of WTO cell of commerce ministry, told New Age on Sunday.
He said that the meeting had discussed how to prepare the responses to the queries by the WTO and what kind of preferences Bangladesh could seek.
He said that under the waiver as an LDC Bangladesh could get preferential market access for all kind of services including movement of persons.
‘It will depend on our skill whether we will get the waiver like preferential market access for goods as there is no mandatory provisions for preference-granting countries to provide the waiver,’ he said.
The commerce ministry has already forwarded the questionnaire to the stakeholders including Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Tariff Commission, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, different ministries of the government and the private sector for preparing answers to those queries made by the WTO.
The ministry asked stakeholders to send the answers before May 15, Nesar said.
Officials said that they were not very much clear about how the developed countries would provide preferential market access for services and service providers of LDCs as the idea was very new.
According to the WTO, the waiver will release its members from their legal obligation to provide non-discriminatory treatment to all trading partners when granting trade preferences to the LDCs.
A BTC official said that developed countries might relax conditions, restrictions or regulatory barriers for the LDCs while exporting services and service suppliers to their markets.
The LDCs usually face several challenges and restrictions including taxes and charges, non-recognition of degrees obtained in the LDCs, certifications of the services, difficulties in obtaining a licence, quota on foreign professionals, lack of market information to enter into the developed countries’ markets, he said.
Under the waiver, there will be all kinds of services including professional, computer-related, business, communication, construction, distribution, financial, health, tourism, recreational, sporting, transport, environmental and educational.
According to the WTO rules, there are four modes of supply of services — cross border services, consumption abroad, commercial presence and presence of persons.
-With New Age input