Japanese Envoy: EPA Between Japan and Bangladesh Should be Accomplished Before LDC Graduation
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Japanese Envoy: EPA Between Japan and Bangladesh Should be Accomplished Before LDC Graduation

The proposed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Japan and Bangladesh should be accomplished before the LDC graduation of Bangladesh in 2026 for continuing the existing privilege enjoyed in the area of trade and investment, said the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh Iwama Kiminori.

He also said that the first EPA Joint Study Meeting was held before the prime minister’s visit to Japan, and the second meeting is going to be held at the earliest time so that they can aim at concluding the negotiation before the graduation of this country from LDC status in 2026.

He was speaking as the chief guest at the event titled “Investment Prospects and Key Tax Proposals Highlight with Business Impacts”, organized by the Japan-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCI) in association with the Jetro Dhaka Office, Kobelco, and Maria Howlader and Co.

“In order to realize more and new investments from foreign countries including Japan, Bangladesh has to pay close attention to the management of its macroeconomics,” he added.

He said that since the 2022 Russia-Ukraine war, the foreign reserve of the country is decreasing and the country is facing so many challenges and world businesses, including Japan, are closely watching how Bangladesh will overcome this difficult situation to recover the country’s macroeconomic stability.

Regarding the budget, he said that amid the various challenging situations, including achieving the IMF’s budget support condition, he understands how hard it might be to formulate this year’s budget plan.

“There are some positive initiatives in the proposed budget but some ideas for improvement remain to be addressed. I would like to appreciate the efforts by the Bangladesh Government for positive aspects and the Government of Japan would like to continuously support the efforts,” he added.

“At the same time, however, we will continue to monitor progress in the remaining areas, especially tax reform for improving revenue collection, breaking away from dependence on indirect taxes, recovering foreign reserves, and suppressing inflation,” he added.

However, there are still a number of challenges including cumbersome approval procedures, delays in customs clearance, restrictions on customs duties and relaxation of restrictions on overseas remittances from Bangladesh.

“In particular, delays in L/C payments are often encountered in Bangladesh, which increases the financial and time burden on companies. I hope these remaining problems should continuously be addressed in the course of the next round of meetings so that we could find the improvement of the situation in the near future,” he added.

In this context, the discussion on the overall tax reform, especially reducing the reliance on custom duties in the tax revenue, is extremely essential not only from the viewpoint of formulation of the sound budget but also decreasing the burden of the business community, he added.

Maria Howlader FCA, CEO of Maria Howlader and Co and Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of Sanem presented the keynotes where they illustrated the changes in the important issues in Tax, VAT, customs duty, macroeconomic perspective and challenges.

Yuji Ando, country representative of Jetro Dhaka Office, Dr Zahid Hossain, former principal economist of the Asian Development Bank, GM Khurshid Alam, former private sector specialist of World Bank, Md Aminur Rahman, former member (Income Tax) of the NBR and Md Humayun Kabir FCA, council member of the ICAB discussed various issues in the panel discussion.

Myungho Lee, president of JBCCI, remarked on the welcome speech and Muhammad Abdul Mazid, former chairman of NBR and an honorary member of the JBCCI marked the introductory speech.

Source : Dhaka Tribune