POST TIME: 1 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
Demand for protection policy for SMEs gains ground

Demand for protection policy 
for SMEs gains ground

Some civil society organizations (CSO) and human rights activists have said that the government should ensure the interest of the state by formulating a domestic protection policy for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) before introducing e-commerce to the country. They were speaking at a seminar titled “E-Commerce & Domestic Protection: Issue of WTO Ministerial Conference 2017”, which was held in the city’s Jatiya Press Club yesterday.

They also said that the government must declare its stand on the e-commerce issue in the upcoming WTO ministerial conference, scheduled to be held in Argentina on December 20.

FBCCI director Abu Naser, DCCI director Md Fazlul Karim, Bangladesh Economic Association member Asjadul Kibria, Jatiya Sramik Jote leader Dr Mesbahuddin Ahamed, Labour Movement Forum convener Abul Hossen and Bangladesh Krishak Forum leader Badrul Alam also spoke at the seminar.

The seminar was moderated by Aminul Hoque of EquityBD. Barkatullah Maruf, another EquityBD official, presented the keynote paper.

But five giant data companies—Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft—and Japan, Canada, the EU and a few developing countries had throttled the scope of the discussion, as they wanted to establish bilateral understanding and legal bindings in this regard.

The African Union and least developed countries (LDCs) had strongly opposed the proposal, saying it would ruin the rights of consumers across the world and jeopardise the security of personal data, according to the keynote paper.

The paper suggested that the Bangladesh government must take a position on the issue for the sake of keeping the country’s interest. It needs to prepare to save small business entrepreneurs and people, the paper said.

On the e-commerce topic, Bangladesh needs strong preparation to face the imbalance, he observed.

Dr Mesbah Uddin said e-commerce has been running based on disruptive technologies; it is rapidly evolving in developing countries like Bangladesh due to lack of competitiveness and market failure. He also said that the government does not have any effective mechanism or institution for regulating this sector for preventing market failure and protecting the consumer.

Citing an example, Dr Mesbah Uddin said that private car service “Uber” is might be a cause of local unemployment and may become a headache for the government in future.

Abu Naser said that growing inequality is one of the major concerns for Bangladesh which would exacerbate in the WTO deal through e-Commerce. “We expect that the government will discuss the issue with other stakeholders to prepare for the upcoming ministerial conference,” he added.