BWCCI organized a national seminar on 9th June 2015, in cooperation with The Asia Foundation and South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium under the project “Promoting Women Entrepreneurship through Improving Regional Cooperation”. The Seminar was held with the presence of the Chief guest Honorable Minister H.E. Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mr. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President of FBCCI as special guest, Mr. Hasan M Mazumdar, Country representative, The Asia Foundation as the guest of honor, Mr. Bijay Selvaraj, First Secretary, the Indian High Commission to Bangladesh, H.E. Aum Pema Choden, Ambassador of Bhutan Embassy Dhaka, Ms. Farah Farooq, Commercial Counselor, High Commission of Pakistan, Country Representative of UNHCR as distinguished guests. Ms. Selima Ahmad, President of BWCCI chaired over the program. Various stakeholders including representatives from The Asia Foundation, USAID, UN Women, Asian Development bank, UNFPA, different Banks, different national and international NGO’s, women activists, representatives from electronic and print media, general members and directors of BWCCI were also present in the event.
In her speech BWCCI President Ms. Selima Ahmad said that women entrepreneurs are the emerging group for business growth as well as contributor to national economy, It is essential to concentrate more to expedite implementation of women friendly policies to ensure access to cross border trade addressing access to markets, strengthening cross border networking among business and trade associations for market information and product information and increasing capacity building opportunities related to business skills, access to finance and business promotion.
She shared the main obstacles for cross border trade:
- Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) has fixed to carry products equivalent to US$ 500 while attending cross border fairs which is not at all sufficient amount,
- EPB provides a letter of certification to women entrepreneurs which have no importance to the customs officers.
- There are some syndicate who are leading the corruption in borderpoor infrastructure at borders and ports
- Custom officials routinely exert their power to influence the tariff value
On behalf of all women entrepreneurs she demanded:
- 50 % discount on stalls and pavilions for women entrepreneurs in DITF.
- Establishment of a help desk and a Focal person for women entrepreneurs at both sides of borders.
- Improvement in customs inspection, assessment and control procedures.
- Computerization and automation of trade procedures.
- Timely publication and dissemination of Information on custom rules, import and export regulation to women entrepreneurs.
- Simplification of custom’s documentation.
- Capacity building in Ports and Customs
BWCCI’s members also shared that they are continuously facing harassment and trouble for crossing the border. In spite of having legal and authorized documents, legal letter from EPB, invoices for products, they are also facing problems and harassments. They have to give bribe in every step in both side border.
Mr. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President, FBCCI, Special Guest of the event praised the BWCCI’s initiatives on cross border trade. He stated that regional connectivity and networking is very important to increase the cross border trade. He also added that visa problem need to be reduce to increase the cross border trade. He demanded to provide 5 years multiple visas from Indian High Commission to Bangladesh for women entrepreneurs. He assured that from now they will confirm the women entrepreneurs’ participation in their business delegation team by FBCCI.
Speaking as the chief guest Honorable Minister H.E. Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, said that BWCCI has taken a very good initiative which is a burning issue for women entrepreneurs whom are related to foreign trade. He specially requested to the representative of Indian High Commission and FBCCI to take rapid action to reduce the obstacles which women entrepreneurs are facing during cross border trade. He also suggested submitting the challenges and obstacles of the borders in written form to the EPB and the ministry of foreign affairs so that they can sit together with BWCCI to reduce the challenges for women entrepreneurs. He requested to the representative from Indian High Commission to take necessary initiative to assign female Customs Officer at their border. He committed that 30% woman entrepreneur’s participation in the business delegation team will be assured by 2021.
Mr. Bijay Selvaraj, First Secretary, the Indian High Commission to Bangladesh said that they will take care of the dissimilarities in the border at Indian side. They will assign Female Custom Officer at their border for the women entrepreneurs. They are now processing 1 year multiple visa for business purpose.