Trading Corporation of Bangladesh

Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) an autonomous state trading organisation under the Ministry of Commerce. After liberation in December 1971, Bangladesh inherited a devastated economy, a disrupted system of communication, and damaged ports. This necessitated urgent import of essential consumer goods and industrial raw materials. In this background, TCB was created in 1972 by the Presidential Order No 68. To start with, it took over all the assets, liabilities and manpower of then of the Trading Corporation of Pakistan. TCB's main functions are: to import commodities according to the requirements of the government; to distribute the imported commodities at fair prices to keep the market stable; to create overseas markets for traditional and non-traditional products of Bangladesh and export those products; to keep a watch on the supply and price situation of the essential goods; and to engage in trading and related activities as directed by the government.

TCB is run by a board composed of the chairman (the chief executive) and three directors. In 1996, the government approved for it a new structure with a manpower of 714 as against the earlier manpower of 1,336. It has four departments: administration, finance, trading and sale/distribution, movement of goods and clearing/forwarding and storage. TCB secretary heads the administration while the directors head the other departments. TCB head office is located at Tejgaon in Dhaka. It has regional offices at Dhaka, Chittgong, Khulna and Rajshahi and a branch office at Barisal. Owing to the operation of the open market policy since the 1990s, the scope of TCB's state trading has greatly been squeezed reducing its manpower and the number of its offices.

Since its inception TCB has been playing an important role in rehabilitation and development of the country's economy, industry and commerce. In 1972-73, it imported 63 commodities including cement, milk food, textiles, yarn, sugar, corrugated iron sheets, vehicles, pig iron, oil seeds, medicines, coconut oil, tyres, tubes and bicycles. That year TCB's share of the total imports was 24.84%. Under open market policy its imports were greatly reduced and at present, its share of imports came down to a mere 0.3%. Its present imports are limited to salt, explosives and timber.

At times of crisis in imports, TCB often acted as the savior. In emergencies it imports onion, lentils, salt, dry chilies, dates, ginger and medicines. During the period from July 1972 to June 1998, TCB imported goods worth Tk 19,923.7 million. In order to mitigate the sufferings of the low income people due to recent high rise of commodity price, the government imported four essential commodities such as sugar, soyabin oil, lentil and gram and distributed them through 2000 dealers all of the country. Imported commodities are distributed through its appointed dealers, agents, its sale centres and licensed persons or organisations.

In addition to importing TCB also doing export trading. Since 1972 to 30 June 1998, TCB exported different commodities and earned foreign exchange about Tk 153.09 million. TCB exports jute, jute goods, molasses, tea, hides and skins, leather goods, readymade garments, urea, frozen fish, handicraft and fine rice. It initiated export of Bangladeshi readymade garments in 1975-76. In due course it became a major foreign exchange earner for the country. It participated in many international export fairs and exhibitions and earned prizes and awards. [Anupam Hayat]