Rising labour cost in East and South East Asian countries has opened up a highly lucrative export market for Bangladesh, and it just has to have the right kind of policy vigour to lift the pie, Japanese Ambassador in Dhaka Shiro Sadoshima said yesterday.
“Bangladesh is so close to that bloc that consists of Japan, Korea, China and the ASEAN,” he said.
“If Bangladesh can export successfully to the EU and the USA, why can't it grab the Asian market too? It is better positioned to enter there.
“Unfortunately, there has been little effort to achieve that goal. It is high time for Bangladesh to pursue this vision very sincerely,” Sadoshima said, as he spoke about a Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean synergy that could drastically change economies of countries like Bangladesh.
The ambassador was talking to journalists at The Daily Star during a courtesy call yesterday.
He praised the country's achievement in garment sector and said the same model could be emulated for assembling and manufacturing small parts of products in the value chain.
“You have to hook up with the east, restructure tariff structure and put in place proper incentives to attract Japanese, Korean and Chinese investments,” the ambassador said.
He gave an example of how Japanese companies are relocating for cheaper and better solutions. After the tsunami and earth quakes, Japan faced serious energy crisis and found out that its millions of vending machines are using up too much energy.
A Japanese company then set up a factory in Chittagong to fit energy saving LED lamps in vending machines to produce efficient products.
He also pointed out the pharmaceutical success of Bangladesh and with proper policy initiation the same can be done in other sectors.
“This country has the right kind of skilled manpower in engineering and banking to do this turnaround, Japan is ready to cooperate.”
Bangladesh can produce many kinds of miniature components which Japan is now producing because of its engineering skills and craftsmanship.
Sadoshima said in the last five years, Japanese development assistance commitment was a third of what it could be.
“If the country can work efficiently with us, we are ready to raise our commitment much higher,” the ambassador said.
As a first step to hook up with the East and South East Asian nations, he advised that Bangladesh should get involved in regional trade blocs like Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
He, however, pointed out a few areas where the country has to work harder for better integration.
Speedy development of energy resources is one of them. Smoothening the transport sector is another.
Change in local investors and policy makers' mindset to open up to foreign competition and investment is another major area to work on.
Efficiency of policymakers is also vital, and for this he stressed the need for a group of committed people who have vision and who can translate the vision into reality.