The government plans to double Bangladesh's exports to Canada within the next three years by boosting the shipments of goods made by small-and-medium enterprises, particularly jute products, according to a press release.
"Bangladesh currently earns about $1 billion from exports to Canada and we want to increase this further," Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said yesterday.
As Canada recently banned the use of plastic goods, it could lead to greater exports for Bangladesh.
"This is because our jute goods could serve as an alternative to plastic products in the country," he added.
Bangladeshi exports to Canada amounted to around $1 billion in fiscal 2019-20, down 25 per cent from $1.33 billion the previous year, data from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) shows.
Munshi made these comments while addressing an event marking the successful completion of the phase-1 of the 'Export Launchpad Bangladesh' project.
The Export Launchpad Bangladesh is a technical assistance project which consists of a train-the-trainers activity and aims to consolidate the knowledge of theoretical and practical aspects of international trade, the press release said.
Twenty-nine Bangladeshi trade professionals were awarded certificates at the event.
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), the Trade Facilitation Office Canada (TFO Canada) and the Business Promotion Council (BPC) of Bangladesh are collaborating on the project.
LightCastle Partners, a local business consultancy firm, organised the event at Amari Hotel in Gulshan.
"This project will strengthen our progress in enhancing the international trade capacities of our member countries, which has become more important than ever in view of the ongoing pandemic," said Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of ITFC.
With the arrival of the Covid-19, the delivery of the programme was successfully modified to be a virtual-based training, investing in exporter training and international market access of the Bangladeshi SMEs, he added.
Through this programme, TFO Canada brought internationally experienced sector and subject matter experts to design and deliver unique export-readiness training, said Steve Tipman, executive director of TFO Canada.
"Given the challenges we faced with Covid-19, our collaboration with 9 TSIs of the Export Launchpad Bangladesh project was even more impressive and will result in Bangladeshi SMEs increasing and diversifying their exports, thereby contributing to inclusive and sustainable economic growth of the country," Tipman said.
In phase II, there will be Gender Equality and Social Inclusion workshops for TSIs, market research and market access training and technical assistance for Bangladeshi SME exporters to improve their access to targeted international markets.
The ultimate goal for the Export Launchpad program is to contribute to sustainable economic development, aimed at reducing poverty in Bangladesh through enhancing capacities to capitalise on opportunities in global trade, according to a statement.
The awarded officials are from the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute, Business Promotion Council, Brac Bank, City Bank, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Export Promotion Bureau, SME Foundation, Women Entrepreneur Association of Bangladesh and Women Entrepreneur Network for Development.
They were selected following a training programme from July to October this year.
They will now act as trainers by providing advice and assistance to SMEs regarding the expansion of trade and getting access to international markets.
Khalilur Rahman, Bangladesh's High Commissioner to Canada; AHM Shafiquzzaman, coordinator of the Business Promotion Council and AHM Ahsan, an additional secretary of the ministry, also spoke at the event.
Benoit Préfontaine, Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, addressed the event through a digital platform.