$150b export opportunity awaits Bangladesh
Bangladesh needs to use the growing e-commerce market and improve the operational efficiency of public and private sectors to seize the opportunities in the global trade, said an industry executive.
Md Miarul Haque, managing director of DHL Worldwide Express (BD) Pvt Ltd, said producers get only around 20 per cent of maximum retail price (MRP).
"But if they can reach out directly to consumers through e-commerce, the same $30 billion of exports can potentially grow to $150 billion."
Bangladesh is ranked 176th out of 190 countries in cross-border trade, and is already exporting products worth about $40 billion.
"Imagine how much we can grow if we improve to a two-digit ranking. We just need some heroes like you to dream this again," he said at the Bangladesh Business Awards on December 12.
Two of the mega trends that are shaping lives are digitalisation and e-commerce, and they complement each other, he said.
Digitalisation provides the backbone infrastructure that is driving the global change in shopping behaviour, and the enormous growth and potential of the e-commerce market is again driving further digitalisation to address the scale.
With digitalisation, global trade is now being disrupted and reshaped. About 1.6 billion online shoppers using 16 billion online devices are changing the world every second. And to understand the scale of the revolution, one has to take a look at the numbers around Alibaba's Single's Day.
Alibaba celebrated the biggest online shopping festival in the world last year for nearly two weeks, and the outcome was $74.1 billion in sales against $38.4 billion a year ago and the revenue of just two weeks is even bigger than the annual revenue of many global companies.
"This is how the revolution of online shopping has led to over $4 trillion global e-commerce market today. That's the scale of this market, and it is growing consistently," Haque said.
Since online retail represents only around 14 per cent of the traditional retail market, it means there is a lot more potential to continue this disruption and grow further, he said.
The size of the domestic e-commerce market in Bangladesh is around $1.5 billion. However, the global cross-border e-commerce market is around a trillion dollars, Haque said.
"This could mean a significant source of potential export earnings, diversification for the country's industries, connecting thousands of SMEs and micro-enterprises to customers around the world, and producers reaching out to more than 7 billion people rather than just 170 million people of Bangladesh."
Haque said he dreamt of a regulatory infrastructure where delivery of shipments to recipients would only be a matter of hours after arrival in Dhaka, instead of days.
"These delays may lead to billions of dollars of missed opportunities. I dream of that day when we will truly see paperless clearance so that we can avoid printing millions of pages as hardcopy clearance documents."