Recently, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 26e edition of Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF), the biggest annual trade and commerce event in Bangladesh, to be held at the mega new Chinese construction site Bangladesh-China Friendship Exhibition Center in Purbachal. Each year, Bangladesh organizes DITF arguing that it will promote exports that will ultimately contribute to the country’s economic growth. On the other hand, some people say it is just a waste of time and money. It is high time to analyze whether the DITF can actually contribute to the economic growth of Bangladesh. And it is also important to analyze the contribution of âJaffna International Trade Fair (JITF)â to the Sri Lankan economy.
Since the inauguration of the first show on December 1, 1995, DITF was held annually at Sher-E-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka until last year. The Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and the Ministry of Commerce are responsible for organizing this exhibition. In addition to local businesses, many foreign companies regularly participate in this event with general booths, premium booths, mega-pavilions, mini-stalls and mini-pavilions. And, this year the fair has 23 pavilions, 27 mini pavilions, 162 stalls and 15 food stalls that have been licensed to different local and international organizations.
As the government spends considerable sums of money to organize the DITF and JIRF, it is important to assess the effectiveness and fruitfulness of this fair from the perspective of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Any international trade fair always touches large dimensions of the economy which need to be discussed in detail. First, the DITF offers an exclusive opportunity to companies, both local and international; whatever their size, an opportunity to present their products and services to potential local and foreign customers, trade associations and the media. On the one hand, it opens a new window of opportunity for local producers and suppliers to compete globally; and on the other hand, it contributes greatly to the sustainable economic development of the country by increasing the volume of exports, facilitating access to the international market and strengthening the confidence of the country’s businesses.
Second, DITF provides a neutral platform for doing business where it brings together people from various departments, finance department, supply chain department, etc. of an organization who can influence the purchasing decision. And this is how it actually increases the likelihood of doing business by bringing people of different levels of management together on one platform. Third, in addition to increasing sales, entrepreneurs can observe the real reaction of consumers not only to their existing products, but also to upcoming products that they plan to bring to the market or that they have. recently introduced. They can then assess these opinions, reactions and perceptions of current and potential customers to drive and assess the future market trend.
Fourth, DITF will help develop a network among local and foreign businessmen, buyers and sellers, distributors, suppliers and agents who will ultimately bring Bangladeshi products to the global market. This will help them not only to diversify export products but also to diversify export destinations. Fifth, it will help organizations collect information about their competitors, such as competitors’ upcoming products, pricing techniques, marketing, and promotional strategies. Most importantly, it will help local businesses understand how foreign companies are entering a new market with their products.
Seventh, as many foreign companies participate in the fair with new and innovative products, it will help local entrepreneurs to get ideas of new products which they could present to Bangladeshi consumers with personalized features. Eighth, without a doubt, this is a great platform for local startups to promote their business and products with little or no cost to their local and international potential clients. Finally, the DITF increases the flow of money into the economy, as many people go there and spend money on shopping, which makes the economy vibrant. And it will also increase the flow of foreign currency into the economy, also attracting tourists for business and leisure.
Although the DITF has a huge untapped prospect of contributing to Bangladesh’s economic growth, Bangladesh has failed to unleash its full potential. In order to create hype and promote the DITF in foreign markets, the government should develop an attractive website with all the necessary information and facilities available to foreigners. The government should ensure an active presence on social networks, in particular on Facebook and Twitter, and energize the event on social networks to have a wider reach. The government can promote the DITF as well as Bangladesh’s tourism sectors among foreigners by creating videos and promoting them on YouTube and mainstream TV channels.
DITF helps potential exporters launch their product and assess its potential on the international market. Besides local sales, he also helps local businessmen get business orders from overseas. The government and business associations should work tirelessly to eliminate all the hassle and overcome all the challenges such as lack of information, presence of counterfeit and shoddy products, etc. As Bangladesh has huge trade deficit, negative trade balance, in international trade, it should promote DITF to diversify export portfolio, export destinations and boost exports to remedy its trade imbalance.
* Ozair Islam is a freelance writer and columnist. He can be contacted at [emailÂ protected]