Bangladesh progresses fast in establishing cashless society: Salman

Salman F. Rahman, the prime minister’s advisor on private industry and investments, stated today that Bangladesh is quickly developing a digital and cashless society.

“Bangladesh has achieved success in creating an enabling atmosphere for digitalisation,” he said while speaking at a roundtable organized by ICC Bangladesh jointly with ICC DSI of International Chamber of Commerce, said a press release.

The US Department of State (US DoS), the ITFC of the Islamic Development Bank, and ADB TSCFP funded the roundtable. Standard Chartered Bank served as the knowledge partner.

The event, which took place at the Sheraton in Dhaka, highlighted how paperless trade has the power to revolutionize economies all around the world.

Salman emphasized in his speech the advancements made by Bangladesh toward digitalization under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s direction.

He stated that interoperability is one of the key elements of digitalization.

However, successful international digital trade depends on other countries too, he added.

“International trade is not only dependent on Bangladesh, but also dependent on the counterparts who also have to make various reforms,” he said, adding that there are also some challenges rising from developed countries.

“Now we see more and more protectionism, especially from the United States, even we are seeing that in Europe,” he said.

Salman went on to say that worries about cyber defense are intensifying as technology advances.

He claimed that while artificial intelligence’s IQ level grows exponentially, it is currently evolving more quickly.

The program’s chair, Mahbubur Rahman, President of ICC Bangladesh, stated that digitization increases productivity, lowers costs, and expands market access.

He presented the Digital Standards Initiative (DSI), a worldwide initiative with its headquarters in Singapore and backing from organizations like the World Trade Organization and the Asian Development Bank.

“By adopting digital trade solutions, businesses can manage the challenges of international markets more effectively and sustainably, the Digital Standards Initiative (DSI) is a global initiative based in Singapore, backed by an International Governing Board comprising leaders from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Enterprise Singapore, the Asian Development Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the World Customs Organisation” he said.

He said every year, ocean carriers issue about 45 million bills of lading, a crucial shipping document. Many international shipping documents are still not standardized and mostly paper-based, needing physical exchanges.

Using electronic bills of lading (eBLs) will speed up transactions, save costs (like reducing administrative expenses for cargo handling and document processing), and reduce fraud risks with digital authentication.

He cited a McKinsey research to support his claim that, by lowering trade friction, a complete switch to electronic bills of lading (eBL) might result in an increase in world trade of $30–40 billion.

This change might also greatly reduce carbon emissions and preserve 28,000 trees yearly.

The UNESCAP Framework Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade was ratified by Bangladesh, he added in 2020.

The first phase of DSI introduction is this roundtable, and by 2027, rules and regulations that reflect the trends in global digitization will be drafted.

Effective trade digitization, according to Edimon Ginting, Country Director, Asian Development Bank Bangladesh Resident Mission, can boost growth and generate jobs by giving emerging nations greater access to international trade networks.

Rupa Chanda, Director of Trade, Investment, and Innovation Division at UNESCAP, highlighted that digital trade is crucial not only for Bangladesh but also for global trade efficiency and sustainability.

She said Bangladesh, in particular, stands to benefit significantly from these advancements. The country could reduce trade costs by 11-12% and gain an additional $0.6 billion in exports by embracing digital trade processes, she added.

Iftekhar Alam, Regional Head for South & South East Asia at the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), spoke about the ongoing efforts to streamline trade, particularly for major cotton-importing countries like Bangladesh.

Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, Chairman of ICC Bangladesh Banking Commission, delivered the welcome address, emphasising the critical role of digitalization in modernizing trade infrastructure.

Lawmaker A K Azad, also Vice President of ICC Bangladesh, concluded the event by emphasising the importance of digitalization for reducing operational costs and enhancing trade efficiency as Bangladesh aims to become a middle-income country by 2026.

This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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