Centre for Policy Dialogue Paper 58
This paper analyses the present developments and future prospects for increased agricultural trade for Bangladesh with the EU. The trade relationship with the European Union (EU) is seeing important changes in recent years. The EU has unilaterally eliminated in 2001 tariff barriers for products originating in Less Developed Countries through the Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement, which includes the highly protected agricultural products. This creates important export opportunities for Bangladesh. The paper analyses in detail the export trends for major agricultural products from Bangladesh and other countries in the region to look for any evidence of an impact from the EBA. Despite the short period analysed, there are indications of some positive impacts. However, these are often rather weak and at times there are none where expected. Analysing the trends of regional competitors, the paper implies that even with EBA Bangladesh lacks price competitiveness in some products, and most importantly a lack of marketing strategy directed towards EU consumers. For the future, the impact of the EBA will also depend on a number of other factors, such as any progress in the farm liberalisation negotiations at WTO, amendments in the Sanitary and Phytosanitary rules and the reform of the EUs Common Agricultural Policy. All of these factors have the potential to erode the benefits of the EBA considerably. The paper also addresses some important strategic aspects to improve import opportunities, from marketing to taking advantage of the trade related assistance offered by the EU to the less developed countries.