Canada looks to boost its foreign direct investment in Bangladesh to explore opportunities in the steadily growing economy, the Canadian high commissioner in Dhaka said yesterday.
“Moving forward, the next step is to increase Canadian foreign direct investment in Bangladesh," Benoit Pierre Laramee, high commissioner of Canada, told reporters on the concluding day of Showcase Canada 2015 at Sonargaon Hotel. Canada has identified ICT and garment sectors in Bangladesh to lend its expertise to, he said.
Investment from Canadian investors stands at about C$300 million, according to Masud Rahman, president of Canada Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry or CanCham.
"Canadian manufacturers can think about bringing technology and advanced management instruments to Bangladesh. This will create a win-win situation for both Canadian businesses and the Bangladeshi people."
Canada has been a development partner for Bangladesh for more than 40 years, while the North American country has provided more than C$4 billion in development assistance.
"Development assistance has helped Bangladesh in making that progress, but ultimately, it is the Bangladeshi people themselves, and the private sector in particular, that have transformed this country," Laramee said.
Through its development programme, Canada is helping to strengthen an enabling environment for business in Bangladesh, he said.
"As Bangladeshi businesses move up the value chain, it is essential that a healthy, educated, and skilled workforce be available."
In the garment sector, Canada is working with the government to strengthen the regulatory environment, especially workers' safety, Laramee said.
"As every business person knows, a stable and well-functioning regulatory system is one of the conditions for faster and more stable growth."
Since 2006, two-way trade has more than tripled and now stands at C$1.9 billion. Trade remains in Bangladesh's favour, with the country exporting over C$1.2 billion worth of merchandise. Canadian exports to Bangladesh in 2014 stood at C$708 million.
During the period, Bangladesh has become the second largest source of Canadian merchandise imports from South Asia, after India.
"With duty free access being offered to Bangladeshi exporters, there are tremendous opportunities to increase bilateral trade between our countries,” Laramee said.
Mortoza Tarafder, a director for trade development of Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership, which promotes the key province of Canada, said Canada has been offering a duty and quota free access to almost all products from Bangladesh since 2003, even before the US and the EU.
Canada imports furniture from Vietnam and China, he said. "This is an area where Bangladesh can make inroads, provided exporters can compete with better quality products."
CanCham, in association with the High Commission of Canada, organised the trade show.
Kamal Uddin, trade commissioner of the Canadian High Commission, and Ali Bakhtiar Mahmood, vice president of CanCham, were also present.