Indian corporate giant Adani Group is likely to start the site development work of the India Special Economic Zone (ISEZ) by this June, where billions of dollars of investment are expected to pour in from the neighbouring country.
The ISEZ, which will be set up on 1,000 acres of land, will be exclusively for Indian investors.
Site selection and land acquisition for ISEZ have already been completed at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN) in Mirsarai, Chattogram.
Now negotiation is going on whether the Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA) will be involved in equity or not.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given her nod to the Ahmedabad-based Adani Group to develop the ISEZ, according to Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of Beza.
Chowdhury believes successful implementation of the ISEZ would eventually reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries that is heavily tilted towards the neighbouring country.
In fiscal 2018-19, Bangladesh’s merchandise shipments to India were $1.24 billion, crossing the $1 billion-mark for the first time, according to data from the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
At the same time, Bangladesh imported goods worth $7.64 billion, down from $8.61 billion in the previous year.
An Indian diplomat in Dhaka told The Daily Star upon condition of anonymity that the Narendra Modi-led government is keen to start operations in the zone as soon as possible.
“Our investors, including giant Adani Group, are eagerly waiting to set up their industrial units in the economic zones,” he added.
A delegate of Adani Group -- whose concerns include energy, resources, logistics, agribusiness, real estate, financial services, defence and aerospace -- visited the site at BSMSN last week for final assessment.
Adani is eyeing the ISEZ as there is Indian government support.
The Indian government will provide $278 million in financial support under its third Line of Credit (LoC) worth $4.5 billion to Bangladesh. Disbursement of funds from the third LoC, which was agreed upon in 2017, is yet to start.
Official formalities will be wrapped up shortly as Adani Group does not want to waste time, Chowdhury said.
“But seeing the urgency in Adani to get the project off the ground, it may not utilise the funds from LoC in the end to sidestep bureaucracy complexity.”
Adani, which has vast experience as India’s largest private multi-port operator, wants to set up a dedicated port in the zone, Chowdhury said.
Besides, the group, whose annual turnover is upwards of $13 billion, has a plan to invest $350 million in Bangladesh to establish an industrial park in the zone under a joint venture with Singapore-based Wilmar, a manufacturer of agro-based foods and allied products.
The number of companies that will set up shop at ISEZ is yet to be finalised, but the zone is expected to create about 3 lakhs jobs directly, Chowdhury said.
The economic zones aim to promote balanced development of multi-product industries in different parts of the country, create jobs for the locals and attract foreign direct investment, he added.