The government is developing 100 economic zones, and Japan – a longtime trusted friend of Bangladesh – should utilise this opportunity to boost investment as the country will be prioritised in Bangladesh, said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Sunday.
"We are looking to diversify our export basket, and the government is working to provide Japan with easier conditions for making investments. Japan has great potential for investing in our: leather, frozen food, light engineering, and bicycle sectors," he added.
We are looking to diversify our export basket, and the government is working to provide Japan with easier conditions for making investments
Addressing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), the minister said, "Chattogram has potential for more investment due to its geographic location."
"I hope that the signing of MoU between the CCCI and JETRO will further increase bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Japan. It will serve as a timely and effective step in the private sector to enhance economic relations between the two nations," he added.
CCCI President Mahbubul Alam and Country Representative of JETRO Dhaka Yuji Ando signed the MoU at the World Trade Centre (WTC) in Chattogram at a virtual event under the title "Celebrating 50 Years of Japan-Bangladesh Economic Friendship: Planning for next 10 Years (2021-2030) of Private Sector Cooperation."
Yuji Ando also serves as the president of the Japan Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCI).
The CCCI and JETRO signed the MoU with the goal of developing a plan for private sector engagement and cooperation in the next 10 years (2021-2030), while exploring and identifying challenges and new opportunities to strengthen Japan-Bangladesh commercial ties in terms of both trade and investment.
At the event, the organisations said they will create a Joint Working Group which will work collectively in four major sectors to identify challenges and opportunities faced by Japanese businessmen here, with the goal to boost bilateral trade.
Under the agreement, the CCCI and JETRO will facilitate the government to strengthen the investment climate to attract Japanese investment. Secondly, they will formulate a Research and Strategic Plan to support private sector cooperation.
Thirdly, they will identify the skill gaps and plan for capacity development to support Japanese investors. Fourthly, the organisations will increase private sector engagements and facilitation between Japan and Bangladesh.
Speaking at the programme, Yuji Ando said manufacturing sectors will be prioritised during the cooperation under the MoU.
Meanwhile, CCCI President Mahbubul Alam said, "The FBCCI is the apex trade organisation of Bangladesh, and they will guide and support us in implementing the activities under this programme. We may explore options for further cooperation with JETRO."
He added, "In recent times, Japan has been showing great interest in investing in Bangladesh considering the improvement in the business environment here.
"Ito Naoki, Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, in his recent visit to the CCCI shared that Japan plans to invest around $2 billion in Bangladesh [$1 billion in the SEZ at Araihazar and $1 billion in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar at Mirsarai]," he continued.
The ambassador mentioned that Japan is committed to supporting Bangladesh's development efforts in future, Alam added.
Ambassador Ito Naoki, who participated in the ceremony through an online platform, said, "Japan is also interested in boosting investment in Bangladesh. This agreement on the eve of the golden jubilee of friendship between the two countries will play a significant role in improving bilateral relations."
Naoki urged Bangladesh to organise a showcase of local products and businesses in Japan in the near future.
Deputy Minister of Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, Principal Secretary of Prime Minister's Office Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Japan Shahabuddin Ahmed, FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim, and Chief Representative of JICA Bangladesh Hayakawa Yuho spoke at the event using an online platform.
CCCI Director AKM Akhter Hossain presided over the ceremony, while CCCI Director Syed Mohammed Tanvir moderated it.
CCCI directors SM Abu Tayyab, Anjan Shekhar Das, Shahriar Jahan, M Mohiuddin Chowdhury, Salman Habib, Sakeef Ahmed Salam, and Shahjada Md Fouzul Alef Khan were present – among others – during the signing of the MoU.