China has reduced tariffs for Bangladeshi imported products under its Preferential Tariff Program from July 1. The result means some 97 percent of all Bangladeshi products from 60 percent. China will now provide duty-free export benefits to an additional 5,161 products from Bangladesh, taking the total number of products to 8,256, including the items admissible under the agreement of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA). Major export items from Bangladesh to China include jute and jute products, plastic products, rawhide and skins, frozen fish and crabs, live eel fish, sesame seeds, and cotton waste products.
Bangladeshi exporters are entitled to export most of the products to China duty-free since 2010. Additionally, duty benefits have also been accessed for many Bangladeshi products exported to China under the third round of the APTA negotiation. Under the fourth round of negotiation, Bangladesh enjoys duty benefits at different rates for 2,372 products
However, despite the duty benefits, exports to China are not growing. According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), total exports to China amounted to US$791 million in fiscal year (FY) 2014-15, US$808 million in FY16, US$949 million in FY17, US$695 million in FY18, US$831 million in FY19, and US$557 million in the July to May period of FY20. The only exception is ready-made garments, which showed consistently positive growth over the years. There are reasons for this, and it involves tariff issues where the APTA clashes with China’s Preferential Tariff Agreement (PTA) as part of China’s Least Developed Nation policy – the two incentives on offer are not synchronized.
Nonetheless, there are opportunities for Bangladeshi companies to trade and increase exports to China. Assuming the product category can be properly identified, which includes the assessment of tariffs under both the PTA and APTA agreements together with price-competitive analysis, now may well be a ripe opportunity for Bangladesh export manufacturers to look more closely at the China market. Given the new tariff status, there is plenty of room for Bangladesh export manufacturers to take advantage of the China market. Research and inquiries made to professional firms who can assist should be the first step.