Economists and business leaders have suggested that Bangladesh sign free trade agreements with Asean member states for boosting exports to the bloc, and ease investment regulations to draw foreign investments.
They also recommended rigorous efforts to diversify its products and their marketing overseas as the country will face stiff competition after making its status graduation into a developing country by 2027 when the European market will withdraw its tariff concession.
The observations came at a webinar on "Expanding Bangladesh's Business Ties with the ASEAN Countries" organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday. Economists, Bangladesh's ambassadors to the ASEAN countries and business leaders attended it.
In a presentation, Selim Raihan, a professor in economics, said in 2019, Bangladesh had export earnings as meagre as $846 million from Asean states against an import bill of roughly $9 billion.
He said Bangladesh could gain significantly by integrating into Asean markets. "It is high time to look into Southeast Asia."