Despite having no diplomatic relations with Israel, Bangladesh has exported small amount of merchandise goods to Israel in last few years.
The latest official statistics, released by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), has revealed that in 2013-14 fiscal year, Bangladesh exported goods worth about $ 2,577 to the Middle East country.
EPB data, however, failed to provide information on what type of goods were exported during the period.
EPB datasheet mentioned “HS code 9801” on export to Israel and under product description, it was written “not defined”.
When contacted, EPB vice-chairman Shuvasish Bose said, “We have no diplomatic relations with Israel. It does not mean we can’t have any trade relationship with the country.”
When asked about the “not defined” goods exported to Israel in last fiscal year, Bose said, “Probably National Board of Revenue (NBR) cannot identify the exact HS code for goods exported there [to Israel].”
HS code is a harmonised system of coding different products to put in a tariff line. The 2-digit HS code represents broader definition of bunch of products while 8-digit HS code breaks up broader definition to individual products.
According to the Bangladesh Customs Tariff Schedule 2013-14, goods exported under 9801 HS code are classified as ‘exports through baggage and miscellaneous export products’. So, under this code it is still unclear about the type of goods exported.
‘We get all types of export information from NBR,’ Shuvashis continued. ‘We preserve export data accordingly. So, it is not possible for EPB to define what type of goods is exported without verifying specific export invoices.’
The EPB head also said that they have no authority to check the invoices and only NBR has the right to do that.
He added that exporters need to go to EPB to GSP (Generalised System of Preference) certification or any other certification. However, exporters had not asked for EPB permission, as Bangladesh has no diplomatic or bilateral relations with Israel. For these reasons, EPB cannot give details on the exported items.
It is to be noted that Bangladesh has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan also. Still Bangladesh has trade relationships with Taiwan and the amount of exports is significant. In FY13-14 Bangladesh’s exports to Taiwan stood at $ 570 million.
Exports trend in Israel
EPB data shows that in FY12-13 Bangladesh has exported goods worth about $ 22,435 to Israel while in FY11-12 the amount was $ 8,364. The maximum amount of exports took place in FY11 when export earning fetched $ 30,545. And in FY9-10, the amount was US $17,861.
During these years under review, Bangladesh mainly exported apparel, knit and textile products to Israel. Besides garments items some ceramic items were also exported.
Israel’s foreign trade official statistics also showed that the country is importing goods from Bangladesh. According to the respective website, the country has imported $ 17,571 and $ 26,558 in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
EPB officials said that there are two ways to export goods to Israel. One is few individual’s direct export. Other way is, by notifying party.
An official of the EPB tried to explain it in following way: a Bangladeshi is exporting to UK. The UK importer is the consignee. The consignee asked the exporter to make shipment of partial goods to a firm or individual in Israel. The Israeli party becomes a notifying party. And goods send to Israel turn it an export to the country.