The authorities plan to construct eight six-storey factory buildings in the country's four export processing zones (EPZs) to attract new foreign investments so that investors can take the plunge into operations soon.
The EPZs are in Chattogram, Ishurdi, Mongla and Uttara. Officials said four buildings will be constructed in Chattogram EPZ, two in Ishurdi and one each in Mongla and Uttara EPZ.
"Most of the investors like to go for immediate operations. They seek readymade floor spaces to avoid construction-related problems," Nazma Binte Alamgir, executive director at the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (Bepza), told The Business Standard.
According to Bepza, the new factory buildings will help bring in $35 million in new investment and increase export earnings by $70 million a year. Besides, there will be 14,000 new jobs for local residents.
Beginning in July this year, construction of the buildings will be completed within three years. The construction cost has been estimated at Tk466 crore.
Nazma Binte Alamgir said the buildings will create a total of about 127,272 square metre floor spaces and help boost Bepza's revenue eventually.
Bangladesh currently has eight EPZs in different regions of the country. With 457 industries, the EPZs contribute 20% to the country's annual export earnings.
Bepza data show the EPZs have received more than $5 billion in investment so far, and generated 4.5 lakh jobs for locals.
Foreign investors can apply for both plot and floor spaces in the EPZs from Bepza. But foreigners' growing interest over choosing Bangladesh as their investment destination has compelled Bepza to focus on ready floor spaces in multi-storeyed buildings instead of allocating limited plots.
According to the authorities, Asian investors alone want to invest around $100 crore in the EPZs. Bepza officials said Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, American, Japanese and European manufacturers are eager to relocate their industrial units to Bangladesh owing to their increasing production costs, mostly prompted by the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
According to Bepza's project proposal, four six-storey buildings will be constructed in Chattogram, adding 54,672 square metres of floor space to the current 1.49 lakh square metres. These buildings will help raise Bepza's revenue by $1.64 lakh per month.
At present, there are 16 factory buildings in the Chattogram EPZ that are entirely allocated to investors, fetching Bepza $54 lakh per year.
As many as 1.63 lakh people are working at the Chattogram EPZ. Foreign investors are visiting the EPZ frequently and expressing interest in investment. But there are no vacant plots or spaces for allocation.
As the EPZ is located only around 2.5 km away from Chattogram port, foreign investors are more interested in the zone for easy import and export.
In the Ishurdi EPZ, there will be two buildings with 3,250 square metres and 2,350 square metres of space per floor. Currently the EPZ has eight factory buildings spanning 64,576 square metres.
The Mongla and Uttara EPZs will have one building each with 3,250 square metres of space per floor.
In the Uttara EPZ, 71,300 square metres of space in 7 buildings have already been leased out to investors. In the Mongla EPZ, 58,589 square metres of space have been rented out to industries.
All the eight EPZs in the country are producing diversified items of many renowned brands. The items include face masks, surgical gloves, shoe covers, medical gowns, sanitary napkins, diapers, hand sanitisers, toys, wedding dresses, bicycles, toothbrushes, cigars, pants and jackets, mobile parts, automobile parts, optical fibre cables, furniture, jute products and processed agro products.
In the EPZs, 37% of industries are producing electronics and other items, 30% woven garments, 6% knit garments, 7% textiles and 20% accessories.