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Taking advantage of Pakistan's economic crisis, Bangladesh begins 'seed diplomacy'

By Erina Haque* 

Bangladesh and Pakistan together make up 5 percent of the world’s population. The possibilities of market value in the case of export and import between these two states are inevitably huge. 
But the trade between the two countries of 39 crore people is now only 6-7 hundred million dollars. This is a very small share in the exports of both countries. In 2019-20, only 50 million worth of goods went from Bangladesh to Pakistan.
It has the potential to grow exponentially. The industrial sector of both countries has expanded tremendously in the last 50 years. The industrialists of the previous generation knew the details of each other’s people and markets. The next generation of industrialists is unable to make use of that historical experience due to a lack of political action.
Syngenta Bangladesh Limited has started exporting vegetable seeds to Pakistan. Through this, a new horizon has been opened in the export of agricultural products. It will increase foreign exchange reserves in the country as well as create employment. In the press release, Syngenta Bangladesh Limited said that it is planning to export vegetable seeds to various neighboring countries in the future.
According to the press release, the export of vegetables from Bangladesh is now increasing. Syngenta is participating in this glorious journey of exports to enrich the country. will help accelerate the growing trend of exports. Syngenta Bangladesh has been operating in the country for over 50 years.
Syngenta Bangladesh Limited is a leading multinational agribusiness company in the country jointly owned by Syngenta Crop Protection AG of Switzerland and Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC).
Keeping the export goal of the government of Bangladesh in mind, Syngenta Bangladesh Limited has embarked on a new journey by exporting vegetable seeds to neighbouring countries. This initiative has opened a new horizon and is expected to create more employment along with increasing foreign currency reserves, said a press release.
The export of vegetable seeds from Bangladesh is now getting momentum and that too, in a remarkable manner. Syngenta started exporting vegetable seeds to Pakistan and going forward it has the plan to export seeds to more destinations. This endeavour will help to expedite this increasing trend of export and Syngenta is proud to be part of this illustrious journey.
Syngenta has a rich history of over 50 years of operation in Bangladesh. It is a joint venture public limited company, where 60% of the shares are held by Syngenta AG Switzerland and 40% of the shares are held by the Bangladesh Government through BCIC (Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation). 
Pakistan’s goods and services trade with Bangladesh witnessed a surplus of 18.64 percent during first five months of current fiscal year (2022-23) as compared to the corresponding period of last year.
The trade surplus during the months under review was recorded at $329.668 million against $277.863 million during same months of last year, showing 18.64 percent growth. The overall exports to Bangladesh were recorded at $365.290 million during July-November (2022-23) against exports of $ 316.680 million during July- November (2021-22), showing growth of 15.34 percent, SBP data revealed.
Bangladesh can export its world-class medicines, apparel, agro-products, halal foods, ceramics, etc.
Meanwhile, on year-to-year basis, exports to Bangladesh during November 2022 witnessed a nominal decrease of 2.66 percent, from US $ 72.356 million to US $70.431 million. Similarly on month-on-month basis, exports of Bangladesh were rose by 16.69 percent during November 2022 in comparison with exports of US $ 60.355 million in October 2022, SBP data said.
Overall Pakistan’s exports to other countries witnessed a decrease of 2.01 percent in first five months, from US $ 12.313 billion to US $ 12.065 billion, the SBP data revealed. On the other hand, the imports from Bangladesh during the period under review were recorded at $ 35.622 million against $38.817 million last year, showing a decrease of 8.23 percent.
Meanwhile, year-to-year basis, imports from Bangladesh during November 2022 also decreased by 18.25 percent from US $10.559 million last year to US $8.631 million. On month-on-month basis, the import from Bangladesh increased by 20.37 percent during November 2022 when compared to the import of US $7.170 million in October 2022, SBP data said. The overall imports into the country witnessed decrease of 16.15 percent, from $29.663 billion to US $ 24.872 billion, according to the data.
Bangladesh and Pakistan can indeed profit by growing business relations. Pakistan can export cotton, yarn, fabric, leather, inorganic chemicals, vegetables and electronics (fan), halal foods to Bangladesh. There is a high demand for these products in Bangladesh.
On the other hand, Bangladesh can export its world-class medicines, apparel, agro-products, halal foods, ceramics, etc. Bangladesh can benefit from using Pakistan’s Gwadar port and China-run CPEC. Bangladeshi products can be exported to Central Asia and imported from the region easily.
As a result, Pak-Bangladesh ties would boost up more. Both sides can also work in promoting cooperation in the areas of science and technology, information technology, health care, digital cooperation, SME [small and medium-sized enterprises] development, tourism, etc.
Bangladesh has vast experience in dealing with refugees, tackling climate change approach, countering terrorism, human resource development. Pakistan has experience in the sector of religious tourism. Both countries can exchange these advantages.
However, there are many potentials in economic relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan. But this should be realized by the government of Pakistan for its interest. Because they need Bangladesh’s help and support in reviving their fragile economy and raising various regional issues at all international forums.
The sooner the Pakistani government realizes this, the better for them. Pakistan and Bangladesh can gain by growing trade ties.
---
*Researcher, freelance columnist

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