Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaking at the ninth China-South Asia Business Forum held at a conference centre in Kunming, China yesterday. Photo: PID
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said allocating a separate economic and industrial zone in Chittagong for the Chinese investors is under consideration of her government.
“Our existing Export Processing Zones are also attractive for investment. In addition, the Economic Zones Act 2010 has created seven exclusive economic zones across the country. These would be of interest to the Chinese investors for whom we're also considering allocating a separate economic and industrial zone in Chittagong,” she told the 9th China-South Asia Business Forum at Haigeng Conference Centre in Kunming.
She sought duty-free excess of more Bangladeshi products to Chinese market alongside increased investment by Chinese entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
The PM also sought Chinese participation in joint ventures or individual investment in pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, shipbuilding, agro-based industries, textiles, ceramics, leather, tourism, manufacturing, ICT, training and development of human resources, design and planning in high value-added sectors.
Chinese investors, said Hasina, may also find interest in Bangladesh's special investment programmes like building international airports, seaports, waterways transport, expressways under Public-Private-Partnership and build-own-operate-transfer schemes.
"I, therefore, invite the leaders of business, trade and industry of the People's Republic of China to visit Bangladesh and appraise the realities first hand," she said adding, "I'm sure you'll find the environment and opportunities most attractive. We in Bangladesh would very much like to have you with us as partners in sharing our profits and gains as we journey together on the road to progress and prosperity.”
Mentioning that Bangladesh's export to China was only $458.12 million in fiscal 2012-13 against the huge imports of $6.307 billion, she said more of Bangladeshi products need to get duty-free access to its market to reduce the growing trade gap.
China also needs to import more of Bangladesh apparels, pharmaceuticals, handicrafts, ceramics, leather products and fish, she mentioned.
“More investment by Chinese entrepreneurs in Bangladesh could also help reduce the trade gap. Their manufactures in Bangladesh could also benefit from our duty- and quota free access to the European Union, Canada, Australia and other developed markets,” Hasina told her audience.
The PM said Bangladesh's investment regime is the most liberal in South Asia as its National Industrial Policy 2010 allows 100 percent foreign equity with unrestricted exit policy, easy remittance of royalty, repatriation of profits, protection of foreign investment, and steady energy prices.
“Our young and industrious workforce with very competitive and affordable wages is also very attractive. Bangladesh's strategic geographic location also makes its exports accessible to a huge market of 3 billion consumers of South and South East Asia and China,” she noted.
Hasina added: Bangladesh has a vibrant trade, established manufacturing industries, undertaking human resources development, vibrant private sector, sound macroeconomic management, robust banking and financial sector, and increased flow of remittances and FDIs.
Besides, she said, Bangladesh's ever-expanding multifaceted social safety nets and the use of ICT and delivery of e-services have energised the country's socioeconomic activities, thus creating an enabling environment for business and investments.
Bangladesh is now producing products from 'ships to chips', and its seaports, land ports and airports are facilitating local and international business, mentioned the PM.
“In fact, Bangladesh is moving up the value chain by developing a knowledge-based economy, technical capacity building, enterprise development, and an integrated policy approach to investment. I believe that China as our trusted friend would support our efforts in achieving our targets,” she added.
The PM said Bangladesh-China relationship is based on close and comprehensive partnership, which has evolved through cooperation based on mutual trust, respect and earnest desire to strengthen the relations.
“We also believe that early realisation of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar-Economic-Corridor would bring socio-economic benefits for us all in the region,” she noted.
Bangladesh, she added, is today poised to become a middle-income country, thus, fulfilling “Vision 2021”, which will be a step towards realising “Sonar Bangla” or “Golden Bangladesh” as envisioned by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The premier also urged the South Asian businessmen to come up and invest in Bangladesh.
CCPIT Chairman Jiang Zengwei, CPC Secretary Qin Guangrong, President of Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yunnan Ismail Asif, Saarc Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa and Maldives Vice-President Mohamed Jamil Ahmed also spoke at the programme, moderated by Iqbal Tabish, secretary general of Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry.