Md. Joynal Abdin
The Financial Express on July 15, 2009
MARKET access requires trade negotiations in bilateral, regional as well multilateral frameworks. Does Bangladesh have the officers to handle the issues? Does it have a specialised department or ministry to deal with trade negotiations? Does it have the skilled trade negotiators? The answer would be “no”, though they are essential for achieving something out of the trade negotiations. As Bangladesh is going to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with a host of countries the deficiency is felt, and acutely so.
A WTO cell in the Ministry of Commerce now handles the issues with support from the Bangladesh Tariff Commission, Export Promotion Bureau, besides other ministries and departments. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce (FBCCI) represents the private sector on the issue. To infuse professionalism in it, the WTO cell of the Ministry of Commerce should be transformed into an independent “WTO, RTA and FTA Commission” to deal with regional, free trade and WTO negotiations. The officers of the commission should be recruited by the Public Service Commission or the “WTO, RTA and FTA Commission” itself. The officers should not be transferred to any other department. They would specialise in trade negotiation only.
They should not be recruited through existing examination system, which requires the candidates to pass BCS preliminary examination to become generalists. The recruits should qualify to become skilled trade negotiations.