Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday invited Chinese entrepreneurs to explore the full potential of business and trade relations with Bangladesh as the country was marching ahead in various areas of economic growth and development.
‘... I invite you to explore the full potential of business and trade relations with Bangladesh,’ she said while delivering her opening statement at the roundtable meeting with Chinese business leaders at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
She also hoped that Chinese businessmen would significantly enhance their imports from Bangladesh in the coming years as Bangladesh’s export basket was expanding rapidly.
‘There’re so many areas to further expand your investment, especially in manufacturing sectors such as textile and leather, and medium and heavy industry sectors such as agro-processing and light engineering,’ she said.
The prime minister said China had already emerged as the largest trading partner of Bangladesh. ‘The total volume of trade between our two countries was US$12.4 billion in 2017-18 financial year. However, majority of this trade consisted of imports from China.’
She said Bangladesh was a very close neighbour of China and geo-strategically located between South and South East Asia and was the 8th largest country in the world in terms of population.
‘Investment in Bangladesh not only ensures a direct market access to 162 million people but also indirect access to a market of more than 3 billion population of South Asia and China,’ Sheikh Hasina said.
She said Bangladesh was blessed with very hardworking, efficient and low-priced labour force. ‘Wages of semi-skilled and management grade workers are one of the lowest in the world.’
The prime minister said Bangladesh offered some of the world’s most competitive fiscal and non-fiscal incentive packages for foreign investors. These include repatriation of dividend and capital at the exit, tax holidays, cash incentives on the export of selected items, permanent resident permits on investment of US$ 75,000 and citizenship on US$ 500,000.
She mentioned that Bangladesh was the 2nd largest exporter of readymade garments and clothing after China. ‘There’s a huge potential to further expand investment in RMG, especially in backward linkage industries.’
‘High quality and price advantage of Bangladeshi leather products have already ensured 2-3 per cent market share of world’s total export. We’re exporting Information Technology and Information Technology Enabled Services to a number of countries, including major economies,’ Hasina said.
She said the traditional shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh had turned into a shipbuilding one and the country was now exporting small and medium-sized ships to many developed countries.
‘Using the advantage of the patent right waiver under TRIPS as an LDC, Bangladesh is now exporting generic pharmaceutical products to 145 countries, including the US, EU countries, Gulf states and China. We have established one special Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient park,’ she added.
The prime minister also informed that Bangladesh was currently the 3rd largest freshwater fish and vegetable producer and the 4th largest rice producer in the world.
In 2017-18, Bangladesh exported US$36.67 billion worth of goods and services and it planned to raise the export volume to US$ 72 billion by 2023-24, she said.
‘Aiming at rapid industrialisation, our government is establishing 100 Special Economic Zones and at least one hi-tech park in each of the country’s 64 districts,’ the prime minister said.
‘China is a major development partner of Bangladesh. Majority of development projects in construction, traditional and alternative power generation and infrastructure development in Bangladesh are being implemented by Chinese companies,’ Hasina said.
She mentioned that Bangladesh was now on the right track to become a ‘Digital Bangladesh’ and a middle-income country by 2021 when it would celebrate the golden jubilee of its independence. ‘We’re aspiring to become a developed country by 2041.’
CCPIT chairperson Gao Yan delivered the welcome address at the roundtable.
Chairman of China International Contractors Association Fang Qiuchen, vice-president of China State Construction Engineering Corporation Zhou Yong, executive vice-president of Huawei Technologies Zeng Chenggang, vice-president of Haier Electrical Appliances Diao Yunfeng, chairman of China Railways International Group Company GAN Baixian and president of Overseas Operations of China Railway Construction Group Cao Baogang spoke at the roundtable.
Besides, FBCCI president Sheikh Fazle Fahim, senior vice-president Md Muntakim Ashraf, vice-president Siddiqur Rahman and vice-president of International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh Rokeya Afzal Rahman addressed the roundtable.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, PM’s private investment and industry affairs adviser Salman F Rahman and state minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam were present on the occasion.
Briefing reporters after the roundtable, PM’s speech writer Md Nazrul Islam said the Chinese business leaders highly appreciated Bangladesh’s socioeconomic development under the leadership of the prime minister and expressed their interest to take part in it.
They also showed their interest to make investment in Bangladesh’s potential sectors like textiles, engineering, manufacturing and construction sectors.
It was informed at the roundtable that nearly 400 Chinese companies are working in Bangladesh and senior officials of 26 companies took part in the roundtable.
Later, CCPIT chairperson Gao Yan paid a courtesy call on the prime minister at the CCPIT centre.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs