Speakers in a seminar on Saturday urged to improve the capability of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) so that the sector can survive and increase exports to fight the challenges of LDC Graduation.

They said focusing on technology advancement, access to finance, marketing facilities, research and innovation, product diversification, cluster base skilled development, and infrastructure are some of the important issues for the overall development of the SME sector.

Speakers said these at a seminar on 'Improving export capabilities of SMEs: succeeding globally upon LDC graduation' organized by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on Saturday (October 7)

Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament was present here as the chief guest.

She said that the SMEs of Bangladesh are resilient enough and contribute more than 30 percent to the GDP. Still, this sector has various challenges and she hoped that the policymakers would try to address these issues to solve the existing problems.

She also added that despite the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, Bangladesh has been able to continue its commendable progress securing 6.5 percent GDP growth.

The speaker (Dr Shirin) invited the SME entrepreneurs to utilize technology to get access to the virtual market and requested them to use the platform of Joyeeta Foundation to sell their products.

DCCI President Barrister Md. Sameer Sattar said, "We need to prepare as the exporters including SMEs will face tariffs ranging from 8 percent to 16 percent on their export after 2026. However, we have a very strong SME base in Bangladesh. SMEs contribute 28 percent to the country's GDP, 45 percent to manufacturing value addition, and account for 90 percent of the jobs in the private sector."

He suggested redefining SME definition by excluding 'Medium' businesses as a medium are largely privileged.

DCCI president also recommended banks provide SME-tailored export financing like credit insurance, export development fund, and working capital loans to address export-related financial challenges.

He also underscored the importance of having a central SME database with updated information. He also endorsed foreign investment, easy technology transfer, and cluster development for export-oriented SMEs.

Dr. Selim Raihan, Executive Director, SANEM gave the keynote presentation in the seminar. He said that Bangladesh's SMEs face challenges like capacity constraints, lack of policies and regulatory issues, financing, infrastructure, and skills gaps.

He also said that the import tariff for SMEs in Bangladesh is a bit high, so it should be investment-friendly.

Kohinoor Yeasmin, CEO of Tarango, Rezbin Begum, MD, People's Leather Industry, AFM Asif, CEO of Bengal Meat Processing Industries Ltd, and Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank Dr. Md. Kabir Ahmed, also spoke in the seminar as panel discussants.

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