Bangladesh will continue to enjoy duty-free access to Canada market till 2034 as per a bill passed in Canadian parliament in June.
The Canadian government has extended duty-free market access to all developing countries that will benefit Bangladesh once it graduates from LDC status in 2026.
The market access, under the General Preferential Tariff (GPT) scheme, also includes relaxed rules of origin of apparel items and provides duty-free access to other products.
The new programme also proposes to extend this market access benefit based on labour and environmental compliance of the industries.
Welcoming the development, BGMEA President Faruque Hassan told The Business Standard that the Canadian parliament passed a finance bill on June 8, extending the GPT scheme until the end of 2034.
This policy decision will greatly support Bangladesh’s industry transformation towards a safer, cleaner, greener, and more sustainable workplace, as well as contribute to the overall infrastructure development in the country, he said.
“It’s time for us to take our bilateral trade to a new height, he added.
According to the EPB (Export Promotion Bureau) data, Canada was the 11th largest exporting partner of Bangladesh with a $1.72 billion export in FY23. Besides, the North American nation is one of the major markets for Bangladeshi apparel.
Bangladesh’s RMG export to Canada reached $1.55 billion in FY23, which was $1.33 billion the previous fiscal, showing 16.55% growth.
Faruque Hassan said, “We have a significant potential to further penetrate this market. With the GPT+ ahead, we should aim for a bigger pie and focus our efforts and resources to maximise this potential.”
Bangladeshi products have enjoyed complete duty-free and quota-free access in Canada since 2003 under the Least-Developed Country Tariff (LDCT) scheme which falls under the GPT.
“As the GPT scheme is being renewed every 10 years, the existing version of GPT is going to expire at the end of 2024,” said Faruque Hassan.
He also mentioned that the BGMEA has been actively pursuing the matter of a smoother transition after the LDC graduation takes effect with major trade partners.
“We have got positive feedback from the Australian Government officials regarding the continuation of duty-free market access after the graduation from LDC”, he said.
Shasha Denims Managing Director Shams Mahmud told TBS that this is good news for Bangladesh currently enjoys duty-free access to the Canadian market.
“However as Bangladesh fell under LDTC, we had to adhere to the rules of origin requirement where 25% value addition had to be shown to attain the GSP facilities,” Shams Mahmud said.
Now with the introduction of GPT+, all the restrictions will be replaced, he added.
These changes are promising for Bangladesh because the country strongly demonstrates that it fulfils all the criteria for social, environmental and safety aspects of the industry, Shams Mahmud opined.