Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the Japanese business community to explore newer areas for investment in export-oriented sectors of Bangladesh to unlock the full potential of business and trade relations between the two friendly nations.
“I invite you to explore the full potential of business and trade relations with Bangladesh. Given the excellent bilateral relations and understanding that exist between our two leaderships, and the tremendous goodwill that prevails between our two peoples, let’s lift the business relations to a higher level,” she said.
The prime minister made the call while speaking at the Bangladesh-Japan Business Forum roundtable with CEOs at the Hotel New Otani here.
Hasina said Bangladesh is a fast-emerging, highly competitive location for investments in terms of cost, human resources, size of domestic market, and access to international markets, trade facilitation, and investment protection.
“We welcomed the investment to the tune of $1.4 billion made by Japan Tobacco last year. We wish to see more such investments from Japan,” she said.
Hasina said the success of readymade garments of Bangladesh sector is globally known as the country is the second largest RMG exporter in the world after China.
The prime minister said apparel is the number one export product to Japan. In 2018, it achieved the highest growth, by almost 33.5 percent in volume, surpassing all other competitors, she added.
“We would, however, like to see diversification in our export basket. I would call upon you to explore newer areas for investment in export-oriented sectors in Bangladesh,” she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is now a major global hub for quality medicine as it is exporting medicines to more than 100 countries, including the US, the UK, Australia and Africa.
She said shipbuilding has drawn global attention by producing world-class ocean-going vessels. Bangladeshi companies have provided passenger and cargo ships to 14 countries, including Europe.
She mentioned that software is yet another promising industry in Bangladesh. Among 800 software and IT companies of Bangladesh, more than 150 are specialised in serving overseas’ clients.
Hasina said more than 20,000 Bangladeshi IT professionals are working in various reputed IT companies all over the world, including Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Oracle and Cisco.
“I’m informed that ITES (IT-enabled services) products appear to have promising prospects in the huge Japanese IT market.”
The prime minister said Bangladeshi agro-based products, jute goods, home appliances, light engineering products, leather products, pharmaceuticals, and electronic gadgets are making a mark in the world market.
“With environmental concerns growing globally, bio-degradable jute and substitute jute products from Bangladesh render huge potentials,” she added.
Hasina said the private sector is the main engine of Bangladesh’s economy and the government attaches top priority to entrepreneurship development and private investments, both domestic and foreign.
She said the government is establishing 100 special economic zones throughout the country, including one exclusively for Japanese investors in Araihazar.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpanagar in Chattogram has a plenty of land for the establishment of economic zones under government-to-government basis and the public-private partnership model.
The government has taken Moheshkhali-Matarbari Integrated Infrastructure Development Initiative (MIDI) for logistic, power, energy hub and waterfront industry hub.
“Japan may support these initiatives,” she said.
The prime minister said the government has also taken initiatives to set up IT parks. Two software technology parks are in operation and 26 high-tech parks/software technology parks are under construction.
“We’re one of the most liberal foreign investment regimes in South Asia. And these include, among others, protection of foreign investment by law, generous tax policy, and concessionary duty on import of machinery.”
“We also offer 100 per cent foreign equity, unrestricted exit, full repatriation of dividend and capital. We enjoy preferential access to most of the leading world markets, including the EU, Canada, and Japan.”
She said Bangladesh is now the second largest economy in South Asia and 41st in the world in terms of nominal GDP. This year, the GDP growth is poised to hit a record 8.13 per cent. And if the current trend of growth continues, Bangladesh will attain double-digit growth rate soon.
“And I’m happy to note that we’re moving steadily towards realising this goal. We’re on the right track to reach our goals to become a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041,” the prime minister said.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim, BGMEA President Rubana Huq and Summit Group Chairman Muhammad Aziz Khan spoke at the function moderated by Bangladeshi Ambassador in Japan Rabab Fatima.
Among Japanese businessmen, Teruo Asada, chairperson of Japan Bangladesh Committee for Commercial and Economic Cooperation; Kazuhiko Koshikawa, executive senior vice-president of the JICA; Yasushi Akahoshi, president of the JETRO; Masayuki Hyodo, president and CEO of Sumitomo Corporation; Shinsuke Fuji, executive vice-president of Mitsui and Co Ltd; Ryutaro Hirai, senior managing executive officer of Sojitz Corporation; Ryujiro Kobashi, vice-president of Mitsubishi Motors; Noriaki Abe, managing officer of Honda Motor Co Ltd; and Kiminobu Hiraishi, president of Maruhisa Co Ltd, also spoke on the occasion.
The Japanese businessmen highly appreciated the prime minister for the robust growth of business and economy in Bangladesh under her leadership.
They also praised the government policies for flourishing business in Bangladesh.
Currently, 280 Japanese companies have operations in Bangladesh.