THE move by the ministry of commerce to form a committee to deal with the ways and means of filing complaints against dumping practices merits attention. The committee, according to a report published in a section of the media, will comprise officials from different bodies and will aim at making local producers aware about the problems thereof. This move has come in the backdrop of some overseas suppliers' sending their goods to Bangladesh at export prices lower than the production cost and thus, eroding the benefit of a level playing field to the local producers in the domestic market. According to the pertinent agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a product can be considered to have been dumped if it is exported at a price which is significantly lower than the production cost. It has been suspected that products such as dry cell battery, razor blade, paints, yarn, etc., which are flooding Bangladesh's markets are being exported at dumping prices.
Understandably, this has created a situation in which Bangladeshi producers of these goods are facing very unfair competition. But in many cases the local producers are completely in the dark that they can get some remedies for the harm being caused to them by such trade practices. They are either unaware of the related WTO provision in this regard or are not able to come up with necessary documents to activate the appropriate mechanism for the remedy to their grievances. Thus, the committee formed will seek to bridge this information gap by disseminating information among the Bangladeshi producers on how to go about filing complaints with the designated authority in this country for this purpose.
According to the relevant WTO agreement, an affected local company needs to file a complaint about dumping of foreign products to the national authority, which on finding supporting documents furnished by the complainant in conformity with the requirements of the pertinent agreement, will initiate an investigation giving related parties the opportunity of being heard. In the final hearing of this investigation process, if the allegation of dumping is found to be correct, then the authority would recommend for the imposition of an anti-dumping duty on the foreign product concerned equivalent to the dumping margin. But so far, Bangladeshi companies in some cases only wrote to the commerce ministry alleging the objectionable trade practices without furnishing necessary documents in support of their complaints. Thus, the national anti-dumping authority in this country could not yet initiate a single anti-dumping investigation whereas other countries have been doing this frequently giving redress to their affected industries. Bangladesh's few nascent industries have been, thus, facing pressure on this score.
The local companies will need to have basic competence in the first place to be able to derive any benefit from the WTO's anti-dumping agreement. Hopefully, the committee that has been formed by the commerce ministry will be able to improve the abilities of the local producers in these respects within a short time-frame. Furthermore, it should make efforts for making the greatest number of the local manufacturers aware of the exact processes to be followed in filing anti-dumping complaints against defaulting foreign competing companies.