Vol. 4 Num 213 Wed. December 31, 2003  

Allegation of RMG export in name of Bangladesh
Investigation starts to catch wrongdoers

A joint committee yesterday started investigation to identify the companies that allegedly supplied documents to export ready made garments from third countries in the name of Bangladesh.

The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and the National Board of Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manu-facturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) are jointly investigating the allegation.

"Initially, we will observe the activities of some top 10 exporters and later others'. It will not be a problem to identify the wrongdoers if we take their export volume and capacity into account," Monjurul Hoque, president of BKMEA, told The Daily Star yesterday.

The Ministry of Commerce Monday formed the joint monitoring committee to investigate the case after apparel exporters complained that some of their Asian competitors are marketing their products in the name of Bangladesh to enjoy duty-free market access given only to the LDCs by the EU and Canada.

"Although shipments are made from third countries, complete documentation is being done here, where local collaborators must have a role," BGMEA chief Kazi Moniru-zzaman told reporters Monday at the commerce ministry.

No assessment could be made yet on the extent of such malpractice, but BGMEA guessed it would be quite significant and suspected that a vested-interest group in the business and also in the government agencies must be involved in the undercover deals.

The theft was unearthed first when a BGMEA team went to Canada, where buyers handed over documents on exports made from a third country using Bangladesh's name as the origin of products.

The third-country exporters, including from China, use Bangladesh labels to get privileged access to the EU and Canada. The recent cases were detected in export of sweaters (under category 5) in the EU.

Commerce Minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury warned tough action against those locals involved in the racketing.

"From now on, certificates of origin will be issued after strict scrutiny of the exporters both at Customs and EPB points," he said after the ministry meeting on Monday.

Besides, all the export licences issued in last one year for pullover (Category 5) will be verified to detect the wrongdoers.