Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) Project is a six-year (2017 – 2023) project aimed to support the government of Bangladesh’s export diversification targets. In 2020, Bangladesh’s ready-made garments exports accounted for about 83 percent of total exports. On the other hand, the country’s export depends solely on this sector.
To diversify exports, the Ministry of Commerce is implementing the Export Competition for Jobs (EC4J) project, which is supported by the World Bank.
So, project EC4J is designed to increase the growth and competition of selected sectors outside of Ready-made Garments (RMG) and to create more and better job opportunities.
The project is focused on four priority areas where Bangladesh has a comparative advantage or the sector that provides the required field in the export-oriented manufacturing value chain.
The project (EC4J) team is also coordinating for the implementation of a complementary technical consultancy project ”Sector Competitiveness Advisory” implemented by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The total project expenditure is estimated at US$ 119.12 million, of which US$ 19.12 million comes from government contributions and the remaining US$ 100 million credited by IDA (International Development Association).
The project will help the private sector companies in the targeted sectors to address the key barriers to accessing the export market, Increase productivity, Improve environmental, social, and quality standards, and combined infrastructure facilities.
Project interventions are designed to benefit companies that have potential in the export market and aspire to enter the export market. Small and medium enterprises in these sectors are also expected to benefit from the project, especially in the export value chain. The EC4J project is supposed to contribute to the government’s strategy:
- Exports worth US$60 billion in 2021 with sectoral diversification.
- FDI to be increased to US$9.56 billion by 2020.
- SDG target of doubling exports by 2020.
These strategies were slowed down by epidemics. However, the goal of the project is to diversify exports and contribute to more and better work in the targeted sectors.
Recently, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi yesterday (19th April 2020) launched a $7.5 million Covid-19 response fund to help private companies procure the necessary equipment as demand for MPPE (medical personal protective equipment) products has soared amid a growing second wave of infection.
The “Covid-19 Enterprise Response Fund (CERF)” style fund is an initiative of the Export Competition for Jobs (EC4J) project, which is currently being implemented by the Ministry of Commerce in collaboration with the World Bank Group.
Md Hafizur Rahman, Project Director and Additional Secretary of the commerce ministry said, “Under the CERF, grants will be provided to private companies for the collection of production plants, equipment, materials and for about $50,000-$500,000 for rapid reconstruction of the capacity to produce MPPE products on a sustainable basis. Project EC4J brings a new opportunity for PPE manufacturers in Bangladesh.