Dhaka, May 29: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called upon the Japanese businessmen to explore new areas of investment in export oriented sectors in Bangladesh by exploiting full potential of business and trade relations between the two countries. “We would, however, like to see diversification in our export basket. I would call upon you (Japanese business people) to explore new areas of investment in export oriented sectors in Bangladesh,” she told a Bangladesh-Japan Business Forum roundtable with CEOs of Japanese enterprises being the participants at a city hotel this morning, BSS reports.
The premier expressed her desire to elevate the business relations between the two countries and people to people contact to a higher level by utilizing the business and trade relations between Japan and Bangladesh.
Describing Bangladesh as the fastest emerging country for its highly competitive location for investments in terms of cost, human resources, size of domestic market, access to international markets, trade facilitation and investment protection, the premier sought more Japanese investment in Bangladesh.
“We welcomed the investment of 1.4 billion dollars made by Japan Tobacco last year in Bangladesh. We wish to see more such investment from Japan,” she continued.
Mentioning the private sector as the main engine of Bangladesh’s economy, she said, “We attach top priority to entrepreneurship development and private investments, both domestic and foreign.”
Terming Japan as top export destination for Bangladesh in Asia, the premier said that the Japanese companies are showing interest to do businesses in Bangladesh and these companies are also involved in various infrastructure development projects besides the trade.
In this context, she said, “We are establishing 100 Special Economic Zones throughout the country, including one exclusively for Japanese investors at Araihazar.”
She added: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpanagar in Chattogram has plenty of land for establishment of Economic Zones under G2G basis and Public Private Partnership model.
“We have also taken Moheshkhali-Matarbari Integrated Infrastructure Development Initiative (MIDI) for Logistic hub, Power and Energy hub and Water front Industry hub. Japan may support these initiatives,” she continued.
Highlighting the potential of ready-made garment (RMG), information communication and software industry, agro-based products, jute goods, home appliances, light engineering products, leather goods and pharmaceuticals products, the premier sought more Japanese investment in these sectors.
“Successes of our ready-made garment sector are globally known. We are the 2nd largest readymade garment exporter in the world after China. Apparel is our number one export product in Japan, and in 2018, it achieved the highest growth, by almost 33.5% in volume, surpassing all other competitors,” she said.
“Bangladesh is now a major global hub for quality medicine. We are exporting medicines to more than 100 countries, including USA, UK, Australia and Africa. Ship-building has drawn global attention by producing world-class ocean-going vessels. Bangladeshi companies have supplied passenger and cargo ships to 14 countries, including European countries,” she added.
She also said that software is another promising industry in Bangladesh as yet while among 800 Software and IT companies of Bangladesh, over 150 are specialized in serving overseas’ clients.
In this context, she said, “More than 20,000 Bangladeshi IT professionals are working in various reputed IT companies all over the world, including in Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Oracle and Cisco. I have been told that ITES products appear to have promising prospects in the huge Japanese IT market.”
“Our 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 mentioned.
She also highlighted various government initiatives for rapid expansion of the industrialisation in Bangladesh and expressed her desire to get enhanced continued Japanese support to this end.
Hoping that Bangladesh will attain double digit growth rate soon, she said.
“Bangladesh is now the 2nd largest economy in South Asia and 41st in the world in terms of nominal GDP. This year, our GDP growth is poised to hit a record 8.13 percent.”
Price Waterhouse Coopers in a report listed Bangladesh among the top 32 countries which will be the biggest and most powerful economies in 2050, she apprised the business roundtable, saying the report placed Bangladesh at the 23rd mark with USD 3.064 trillion GDP in terms of PPP in 2050.
Rapid expansion of the industrial sector enabled us to double our annual export earnings to USD 36.67 billion in just five years, she continued.
The McKinsey and Company has dubbed Bangladesh as one of the fastest growing sourcing destinations, emerging manufacturing and distribution hubs, and an expanding consumption economy, she said.
JETRO in a recent survey has ranked Bangladesh as the highest country in terms of future expansions among Japanese companies in the region, she added.
The premier called upon the Japanese businessmen to share their ideas for strengthening trade and economic relations between the two countries.
“Let this exchange be frank and productive. I greatly value your opinions as I am well aware of your contribution to strengthen Bangladesh-Japan relations,” she said.
Speaking on the occasion, top Japanese business leaders has highly praised the unprecedented development in Bangladesh coinciding its higher economic growth under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said PM’s Speech Writer (Secretary) M Nazrul Islam while briefing reporters after the roundtable.
The Japanese business entrepreneurs have expressed their satisfaction over taking appropriate measures to ensure safety and security of foreigners particularly the Japanese, he also said.
They mentioned that due to the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is now considered as one of the important destinations for their investment, he quoted Japanese entrepreneurs as saying.
Currently, some 280 Japanese companies are working in Bangladesh, he informed.
Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal, FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim, BGMEA President Rubana Haque and Chairman of Summit Group Muhammad Aziz Khan spoke on the occasion.
Chairperson of Japan Bangladesh Committee for Commercial and Economic Cooperation (JBCCEC) teruo Asada, JICA executive senior vice president Kazuhiko Koshikawa, JETRO president Yasushi Akahoshi, Sumitomo Corporation president and CEO Masayuki Hyodo, Mitsui and Co Ltd executive vice president Shinsuke Fuji, Sojitz Corporation Senior Managing executive officer Ryutaro Hirai, Mitsubishi Motors vice president Ryujiro Kobashi, Honda Motor Co Ltd managing officer Noriaki Abe and Maruhisa Co Ltd president Kiminobu Hiraishi also spoke.
Bangladeshi Ambassador to Japan Rabab Fatima moderated the function.