The government is committed to providing all-out support to promote the Medical and Personal Protective Equipment (MPPE) industry in Bangladesh as an important sector to attain export diversification, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said.
He made the remarks on Monday in his speech as the chief guest of a webinar titled "Exploring Growth Opportunities: Production and Export of Medical and Personal Protective Equipment".
The Ministry of Commerce will take necessary steps to ensure that enabling policies and regulations are put in place for the sector, the minister said at the event, organized by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD).
While the Covid-19 has posed a major challenge to the development dynamic of Bangladesh, the country has survived the challenges and is now set to resume its accelerated growth towards its transition to become a developed economy.
"Bangladesh needs to develop the MPPE industry in a strategic manner, setting targets, extending the right incentives, ensuring public-private cooperation, and following up closely on the progress," emphasised Tapan Kanti Ghosh, secretary, Ministry of Commerce.
Recognising that export diversification is a major challenge for the Bangladesh economy as the country seeks to lessen its heavy dependence on the RMG sector, BUILD Chairperson Abul Kasem Khan mentioned that the best strategy to begin diversification is to build on our strength.
He mentioned five key areas to focus on to develop the sector— right products, proper incentives, appropriate policies, knowledge and skills, as well as proper technology and logistical systems.
Nuzhat Anwar, acting country manager, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, International Finance Corporation (IFC) said, IFC is providing the necessary support to bridge knowledge gaps in the MPPE sector in order to enhance private sector growth and support economic recovery.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hasan said, "Strengthening collaboration along with the regulatory bodies, Technical Know-How and a robust backward linkage is important."
He also emphasised the need for attracting FDI in this respect.
The keynote Presentation on 'Policy advocacy support to identify, pursue and access to international markets for locally produced MPPE products' was delivered by Ms Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD).'
Global MPPE Demand is worth $510-595 billion in 2021.
Exports of MPPE in FY21, FY20 & FY19 respectively were $837.78mn, $702.88mn & $711mn (for 8 products as per WHO list). Exports of 12 products, including 4 products by the export promotion bureau, were $1403.71mn, $758.9mn & $1243.34mn in FY21, FY20 & FY19 respectively.
Ferdaus Ara Begum noted that Bangladesh is already making progress in the MPPE sector especially in 12 products of which 8 are included in the WHO list of MPPEs. No-objection certificate (NOC) from Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) has been availed by 43 firms for surgical masks as well as 57 for coveralls/ PPE gowns as of September 2021.
Major General Md Mahbubur Rahman, director general, Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) mentioned that although Bangladeshi pharmaceutical industry meets 98% of local demand and exports to 57 countries, the country imports more than 95% of medical devices.
The panel discussion was conducted by Asif Ibrahim, Chairman, Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE).