A tripartite agreement between two local trade bodies and the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) was signed yesterday to strengthen private sector engagement in trade and investment between Japan and Bangladesh.
The Chattogram Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCCI), the Japan-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry (JBCCI), and the Jetro inked the memorandum of understanding (MoU) at an event in the port city.
The MoU aims to develop a plan for private sector engagement and cooperation for the next 10 years to identify the challenges and new opportunities for strengthening ties between the two nations.
This includes identifying the challenges and opportunities for Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh, exploring areas of technical cooperation for innovation in the private sector and locating potential sectors for export and investment in collaboration with private sector leaders.
The deal also intends to facilitate government spending to strengthen the investment climate and attract Japanese investment.
This involves identifying any potential gaps in required skills as well as plans for capacity development to support Japanese Investors.
As a part of its efforts to facilitate Japanese investment under the MoU, the CCCI will establish a Japan desk at its office to assist potential investors from the island nation with the related process.
CCCI President Mahbubul Alam and Jetro Country Representative Yuji Ando, also the president of the JBCCI, signed the agreement to mark the 50th anniversary of the Japan-Bangladesh economic alliance.
"Japan is committed to providing technical assistance and building skilled manpower for the development of Bangladesh's manufacturing sector in the next 10 years," Ando said.
"We have a good idea about Bangladesh's economic direction as we have been involved in various development projects for a long time."
There is a huge opportunity in the country to increase dependency on technology and build a skilled workforce in the manufacturing sector.
"We are interested in working in these issues," the JBCCI chief said.
This MoU follows an agreement made between the two countries back in 2016 when the Jetro and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry penned a deal to promote Bangladesh as an investment destination for Japanese entrepreneurs.
This new deal is a continuation of that pact as the CCCI has joined hands with the Jetro Dhaka and the JBCCI to enhance cooperation and facilitate private sector engagement, according to the MoU.
"The goal of this programme is to develop a plan for private sector engagement and cooperation and identify the challenges and new opportunities for strengthening Japan-Bangladesh commercial ties in terms of both trade and investment," said CCCI President Alam.
Bangladesh has made major economic progress in the last decade with total exports have more than doubled.
Alam also said that Chattogram is positioned in a geographically strategic spot.
The Matarbari project and the Deep-Sea Port in Chattogram are both parts of a big concept of Japan's since these projects have the potential to make Chattogram an attractive investment destination.
"If we can properly utilise our competitive resources, Chattogram and Bangladesh as a whole could become the focal point for economic growth in Asia in the future," he added.
At the event, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi urged Japanese businessmen to invest in the country's various economic zones.
"We urge Japanese businessmen to invest in the 100 economic zones in various sectors, including garments, leather and food processing. We are always ready to give our maximum support to them," he said.
There are 315 Japanese companies currently operating in Bangladesh, 70 per cent of which are willing to increase their investment, according to a Jetro survey.
Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, Principal Secretary of Prime Minister's Office Ahmad Kaikaus, Member of Parliament M Abdul Latif and a few CCCI directors were also present at the event.