The Bepza Economic Zone in Mirsharai is at the centre of attraction for local and foreign investors due to its proximity to Chattogram port and other facilities.
The Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) plans to set up 539 industrial plots on 1,150 acres of land at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in Mirsharai, Chattogram.
It has already prepared 140 plots for factories to be set up there.
Meanwhile, 78 companies from home and abroad have applied for more than 250 plots. Of them, Japan alone has sought 50 plots.
The companies together have proposed to invest over $1.348 billion in the ninth economic zone set up by Bepza.
"We have already allotted 66 plots. They will start infrastructure development later this year. We are verifying the rest of the applications," Major General Md Nazrul Islam, Bepza Executive Chairman of Bepza, told The Business Standard.
"We are giving priority to companies from different sectors other than the readymade garment industry. We want to diversify our export products. We want to give allotments to competent companies after verifying their applications by next December."
Major General Md Nazrul Islam said Japanese businesses will invest in the production of field items, golf shafts and other products.
"We have formed a committee to review the Japanese proposal. But we will not be able to allot them 50 plots as there are a large number of investment proposals. We have a lot of demand for plots here," he added
$4.5bn foreign investment is expected
Bepza has received investment proposals from a number of countries, such as China, Japan, South Korea, the UK, the US, Canada and Hong Kong alongside those from local companies.
The companies are keen to invest in the manufacture of backward linkage products in the garment industry, such as zippers, buttons, high-quality leather goods, chemical industry, non-RMG products such as bags, trolleys and outdoor tents.
Bepza expects to complete the development of all 529 plots in the economic zone by 2023. It will generate employment for 5 lakh people.
The economic zone is expected to bring in $4.5bn in foreign investment and $3.23 billion in export earnings.
Utilising the nearly 40 years of experience in EPZ construction and management, Bepza has prepared a modern, sustainable, and environmentally friendly master plan considering present and future needs
The plan includes the construction of five 10-storey residential buildings for investors, an investors' club with hotel facilities, and single individual accommodation for 2,000 foreign nationals.
It will have a central water reservoir on 45 acres of land for rainwater harvesting and water reuse after purification and a central automation system to facilitate a one-stop service and customs-related activities.
Investors can easily conduct business in the factory buildings that Bepza is constructing.
Major General Md Nazrul Islam said, "Just plug and play. Merchants will be able to make their products faster as soon as they arrive. They do not have to build new factory buildings on plots."
The installations of ancillary services such as electrical work and gas lines has been completed.
Major General Md Nazrul Islam said it will be a green industrial zone and added that Bepza welcomes investors from all over the world in order for them to take advantage of the exclusive investment opportunities offered at the Bepza Economic Zone.
Under Bepza, there are now eight EPZs --- Chattogram EPZ, Dhaka EPZ, Mongla EPZ, Ishwardi EPZ, Cumilla EPZ, Uttara EPZ, Adamjee EPZ, and Karnaphuli EPZ.
At present, Bepza contributes about 20% to the country's total annual exports.
There are no vacant industrial plots in the existing EPZs. In view of the growing demand for investment, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Bepza Economic Zone in January 2018.
The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar is located on about 30,000 acres of land in Mirsharai and Sitakunda upazilas of Chattogram and Sonagazi upazila of Feni.
The government allotted 1,150 acres of land for setting up the Bepza Economic Zone at the Shilpa Nagar.
Bepza offers various incentives to investors in its EPZs. By investing in EPZs, investors can get tax holidays, duty-free imports of raw materials and equipment, tax exemption on dividends, GSP benefits, duty-free and quota-free access to the European Union and other countries.
Bepza allows 100% foreign ownership in EPZs. There are no restrictions on foreign investment and on a full withdrawal of their capital and dividends.