STDF and Swisscontact Bangladesh Collaborate to Enhance Bangladesh's Trade Landscape

The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and Swisscontact Bangladesh organized a series of events to address SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) challenges in Bangladesh's trade, utilizing the P-IMA framework. Stakeholders identified key issues, explored solutions, and engaged with government officials and development partners to prioritize investments and improve market access
Marlynne Hopper, Deputy Head, STDF (Standards and Trade Development Facility)

The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and Swisscontact Bangladesh co-organized a series of events from 5th to 7th June at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Gulshan 2, Dhaka, Bangladesh. These events were organized as part of an STDF funded Project Preparation Grant to Prioritize SPS investments in Bangladesh using the STDF's P-IMA framework.

On the 5th of June, stakeholders gathered at a national workshop to learn about the P-IMA process, identify key SPS issues hindering trade and explore potential solutions. Md Sakib Khaled, Manager, Portfolio Development, moderated the workshop and the roundtable. Participants included fisheries, trade, and agriculture ministries, departments, and private sector associations. Valuable inputs obtained from the discussions will serve as a basis for investment prioritization and inform decision-makers from government departments and the donors' community.


Workshop participants discussing the challenges.

Mujibul Hassan, Country Director of Swisscontact Bangladesh, delivered the opening remarks, emphasizing the significance of international trade in Bangladesh. He highlighted Swisscontact's ongoing efforts to facilitate efficient trade systems by engaging both the public and private sectors.

This workshop highlighted the intricacies and challenges in Bangladesh's current trade landscape which include but are not limited to, the presence of harmful organisms, chemical contaminants, and the suboptimal regulation of hygiene practices. The contributions from public private participants helped pinpoint the major SPS challenges in key value chains in the horticulture and fisheries sectors. The event demonstrated how the P-IMA decision-making tool can help build business cases to mitigate these challenges and promote safe trade.

On the 6th of June, a delegation comprising Swisscontact Bangladesh and the STDF, undertook visits to three departments of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB). A series of meetings were conducted with senior government officials from the Ministry of Commerce, the Department of Fisheries, and the Department of Agriculture to discuss SPS capacity building, agricultural trade competitiveness, and strategies to enhance capacity in the horticulture and fisheries sector.

A roundtable discussion took place on the 7th of June with donors and development partners working in Bangladesh on trade facilitation and promotion. Presentations were shared by Ms. Hopper from the STDF on the P-IMA framework, its usefulness, and related utilities. Mr. Sakib Khaled from Swisscontact illustrated the ongoing experience of applying P-IMA in Bangladesh and future implications and plans. The roundtable discussion was useful for collecting valuable feedbacks from development partners and donors and for identifying opportunities to enhance the use of the P-IMA framework to improve Bangladesh's access to Market.