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BD-Japan ties at 50

Prospects of trade, investment in focus

FE REPORT | November 12, 2022 00:00:00

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen said although the diplomatic relationship between Bangladesh and Japan has reached 50 years, the two friendly countries are still to exploit their true potential.

He said there are further prospects of larger trade and investment cooperation in areas like infrastructure, high-tech industries, fishing and mining, electronics and biotech engineering.

"There further prospects of greater trade and investment cooperation in the areas of infrastructure, high-tech industries, fishing and mining, electronics, bio-tech engineering, renewable energy, and ICT for the mutual benefits of our two countries."

Mr Momen made the observations as the chief guest at a networking programme styled 'Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Japan-Bangladesh Diplomatic Relations' on Thursday night.

The Japanese Commerce and Industry Association in Dhaka (JCIAD) and the Japan Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCI) co-hosted the event at a city hotel.

The minister said Japan would play a crucial role as Bangladesh would graduate from the LDC status in 2026 on its way to becoming a developed country by 2041.

"We look forward to adding a new dimension in our relationship with Japan and further consolidate our political and economic relations," he added.

Mr Momen said Bangladesh is located in the middle of two huge economic markets-South Asia and South-East Asia. So, it can be a business hub in the region.

"Bangladesh can be a friendly destination for Japanese businesses as a market of about 170 million consumers with a growing middle-class, higher purchasing power, easily trainable vibrant workforce and rapid pace of economic growth."

Japanese Ambassador in Dhaka Ito Naoki and JCIAD Secretary General and JETRO Country Representative Yuji Ando also spoke.

Mr Momen said Japan has remained a true friend and a trusted development partner in Bangladesh's journey towards achieving stellar socio-economic progress.

Japan has so far committed to providing support of more than $28 billion as development assistance to Bangladesh through grants, loans and technical assistance.

Dhaka has already received over US$18 billion worth of assistance from Tokyo.

A large number of infrastructure development projects in Bangladesh have been completed or under implementation with Japanese financial and technical support, cited Mr Momen.

Dhaka MRT, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport's expansion, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge, Matarbari Port and Matarbari ultra-supercritical coal-fired power projects are expected to transform infrastructure landscape on their full implementation.

Addressing the gathering, the Japanese envoy said the bilateral negotiations for signing a free trade agreement (FTA) or an economic partnership agreement (EPA) should start as soon as possible.

Most of the Japanese companies in Bangladesh and the Bangladeshi companies in Japan want an FTA or an EPA so that Bangladesh continues enjoying duty benefit after its graduation to a developing country in 2026, he added.

Moreover, it may take three to four years to conclude the signing of the FTA or EPA, so the negotiation should start as soon as possible, according to Mr Naoki.

Japan is the second-largest export destination of Bangladesh in Asia.

Bangladesh's merchandise exports to Japan have almost doubled in the last decade and reached over $1.3 billion in the last fiscal year.

Japan is the fifth-largest import source country for Bangladesh with merchandise imports standing at over $2.0 billion and the twelfth-largest FDI source country with FDI stock at around $483 million.

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