The blue economy is the new potential sector of investment in Bangladesh and it is possible to earn billions of dollars from this sector in the next few years with suitable policies in place, said Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam.
Addressing a seminar on "Blue Economy: Prospective Economic Engagement in Bangladesh" at Bida conference room in the capital on Monday, he urged the concerned departments of the government to reform the existing policies promptly and create simple investment-friendly policies.
Presenting the keynote, the Secretary (Maritime Affairs Unit) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (Retd) Md Khurshed Alam said, "The overall maritime boundary of Bangladesh expands up to 664 kilometres (354 nautical miles), but fish is harvested within only 60km. Despite claiming the boundaries in 2012, the marine resources including oil and gas are still out of our reach."
"Although several plans have been undertaken in this regard, they have not seen the light of day. But Myanmar has already started extracting mineral resources next to Bangladesh's sea block," he said.
"Not only fish or mineral resources, but the entire economy of Bangladesh can be changed by using the sea within its borders. Various industries including tourism, shipbuilding, deep-sea fishing vessels, containers, medicine, and cosmetics can be developed by utilising the marine economy," Khurshed Alam said.
"The maritime areas of Bangladesh are equal to 81% of the mainland. The country only has 70 ships while there are 1.5 lakh ships moving on international sea routes all over the world. But, the size of the economy of goods transportation on this maritime route is $9 billion," he said
The Maritime Affairs Unit secretary also said that Bangladesh has potential in container construction business. "Around 74% of containers are used in the Asia region. Trade is growing at the rate of 15% every year. That is, the demand for containers will increase in the future."
"Although there are several sea ports in Bangladesh, they are not suitable for supporting mother vessels. If the Matarbari deep sea port is built, it will help to exploit the potential of the blue economy," Khurshed Alam added.
At the seminar, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) President Md Saiful Islam asked the government policymakers to take the advice of private sector experts in making policies.
Officials of the Maritime Affairs Unit, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, and Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism participated attended the seminar organised by Bida.