The Ministry of Commerce through the Business Promotion Council (BPC) aims to promote the growth of potential industrial sectors of Bangladesh economy that are yet to take off. Therefore, other than the already established sectors such as readymade garments, the underperforming but potential sectors such as the information and communication technology, leather and leather goods, fisheries and frozen fish, medicinal plants and herbal medicines, light engineering, and agro processed and horticultural products, have all received special attention from the Ministry of Commerce. Individual councils have been formed for these six sectors within the Business Promotion Council in order to enhance their export capability and competitiveness.
The firms in the six sectors mentioned above are in various stages of life cycle from early incubation to small to medium scale. They could not demonstrate any visible sign of realizing their true export potential and capability without institutional assistance from the government. The Ministry of Commerce expects that through the Business Promotion Council these six sectors will be able to grow, connect and compete successfully in the export market. Each of these councils has been set up as a non-profit organization under the Companies Act, 1994.
The members of each sectoral council comprises of relevant government departments, such as the Ministry of Industries, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Ministry of Science and ICT, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Export Promotion Bureau etc., autonomous organizations, such as Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council etc., trade associations and companies in the sectors, and individual stakeholders. Dates of establishment of the six sector councils and names of private sector member associations involved in these councils are shown in Annex 1.
As mentioned earlier, the prime objective of the Business Promotion Council is to promote businesses of these six individual sectors in the country and abroad, and to help individual members compete and become more competitive. The major functions of the Business Promotion Council are enumerated below:
BPC's engagement with development partners:
- It facilitates capacity building among the industries involved in individual sector councils within the BPC through organizing training workshops, seminars and awareness programs in terms of enhancing competitiveness, productivity and greater compliance.
- It acts as a portal to provide all the information about important events e.g. trade shows, training programs, changes in market conditions etc. all over the world.
- It serves as a forum for (a) exchange of ideas on issues related to market changes; (b) dialogue on impact of changes in regulation on the business; (c) dialogue on impact of changes in technology on the business, and (d) dialogue on impact of changes in local or international economic setups.
- It facilitates research of markets focusing on elements such as (a) new market opening/closure of existing markets, (b) mergers/acquisition having impact on market condition, (c) coordinating activities such as organizing pressure groups at home or abroad, as relevant, and (d) organizing events as found relevant. The objective is to identify strength, weakness, opportunity and challenges for the six sectors.
- Each sector council within the BPC serves as the body to represents the interests of the private sector participants in the relevant industry. Therefore, each sector council is concerned with a well defined industry or group of industries to ensure the depth of knowledge and market awareness required to develop really effective industry and market development strategies and programs.
The BPC's sector councils have also been active since their inception in terms of making engagements with various development partners through collaboration and partnership to carry out activities and undertake projects aimed at enhancing export competitiveness and efficiency of concerned industries. Some of these are highlighted below:
Way forward and plans in immediate future:
- LSBPC-ITC partnership for the tannery sector under Asia Trust Fund of EC in 2004 (completed).
- LSBPC-GTZ project on leather bags design and development in 2007-08 (completed).
- LSBPC-GTZ study on value chain assessment of the leather sector (completed))
- Baseline Survey jointly initiated by LSBPC-AMF (Abdul Monem Foundation) on micro, small and artisan enterprises of leather goods and footwear (completed).
- Desk study to assess the competency of ICT sector funded by KATALYST (completed).
- Study on the Bangladesh Leather Sector funded by GTZ (completed)
- 30 months partnership MoU signed between BPC and KATALYST under which a five year business plan for improving the capacity of BPC is under development (on going).
- Partnership with SEDF on imparting capacity building activities, and market promotion for the light engineering sector (completed).
- Study on the status of compliance in the Shrimp processing sector with assistance from KATALYST (completed).
- The website of BPC is under construction as part of the partnership program with KATALYST (on going).
- Bangladesh Leather Service Centre project of LSBPC-ITC (Italian government funded) since March 2006 (on going).
In the immediate future, the BPC has plans to undertake the following actions and activities:
- The BPC has recently established the Agro Products Business Promotion Council to cater to the demands of the agro processed food and horticultural products. This sector council now awaits incorporation under the Joint Stock Companies.
- Under the Export Policy, the government has plans to establish more sector councils, especially in the area pharmaceutical products and poultry products.
- The BPC plans to establish an international standard Aquaculture and Aquatic Food Safety Centre in Bangladesh. In this connection, an MOU is already signed among BSFF, JIFSAN, KATALYST and USAID-PRICE. The centre will be established under the Bangladesh Economic Growth Programme (BEGP) project undertaken by the Ministry of Commerce, in which the BPC has a component.
- The BPC plans to conduct a study to explore potential export markets for fresh potato and potato flakes in partnership with KATALYST. Negotiations with KATALYST are in progress.
- The BPC will continue all its regular activities, which include training and capacity building programs, holding seminar, conducting awareness campaign etc.