The visiting Canadian delegation has signed export and investment deals worth US$24 million during its two-week stay in Bangladesh, said Antonie de Wilde, senior programme manager of SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility (SEDF).
The agreements include US$ 10 million in export orders and US$ 14 million in investments and joint ventures, he said while addressing a business meeting with members of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at its secretariat yesterday.
FBCCI President Yussuf Abdullah Harun presided over the meeting.
Significant investments have been made in sectors like ready made garment (RMG), beverage and leather but the delegation did not mention the sectors in which they signed export orders.
A Canadian garment manufacturer signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Bangladeshi company for orders worth three million US dollars. In another case, a Canadian garment manufacturer decided to relocate its Toronto factory to Bangladesh.
A Canadian beverage company signed a joint venture agreement with a Bangladeshi soft drink producer to set up a production plant with an approximate investment of seven million US dollars and annual sales of seven million US dollars.
Three Bangladeshi companies signed MoUs with a Canadian leather company. One of the MoUs, covers an investment of over three million US dollars. These three agreements cover immediate sales of over 2.5 million dollars, the delegation said in the meeting.
A Canadian Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) company signed a joint venture agreement with a local Internet service provider (ISP) for voice-over data contract with a value of one million dollars in annual sales.
A freight forwarding company signed MoUs with three Bangladeshi companies with an expected value of 750,000 US dollars.
Addressing the meeting, Greg MacDonald, leader of the delegation, said the joint ventures will not only help increase Bangladesh's exports to Canada but also to the neighbouring US market.
In his presentation, Ronald Beriet, representative of Trade Facilitation Office of Canada, highlighted the eligibility criteria of least developed countries (LDCs) for getting market access to Canada.
He also said the aim of the Canadian duty-free access is to help reduce poverty level in the LDCs and also to help poor countries cope with probable challenges of WTO regime.
He said the Trade Facilitation Office of Canada (TFOC) works for government departments and agencies, foreign trade and investment promotion organisations, and private companies
In the open discussion, speakers said small and medium industries have good prospects in Canada.
As the duty-free access allows any Bangladeshi product, excepting arms and poultry, to enter Canada, Dhaka should make extra efforts to diversify its export basket to include pharmaceutical, light engineering, shrimp, handicrafts, software sectors, apart from ready made garment (RMG) and leather, the speakers said.
Board of Investment (BOI) Executive Chairman Mahmudur Rahman urged for joint collaboration between the pharmaceutical sectors of both the countries.
Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Vice Chairman Habib Abu Ibrahim said the bureau will provide more facilities to the trade bodies to get access to foreign markets.
The EPB vice chairman also assured the Canadian delegation that the government will fill up the vacant posts of trade officials in different Bangladeshi foreign missions in the next two to three months after the delegation members expressed concern over it.
Mofizur Rahman, executive chairman of BEPZA, also spoke at the meeting attended by leading exporters, producers, and businessmen of Bangladesh.