Speakers at a webinar on Wednesday night said Canada and Bangladesh still have many untapped areas to improve their bilateral relationship, including trade and investment in education, ICT and merchandised products infrastructure and pharmaceuticals.
They said Canadian businesses can take the advantage of investing in the economic zones in Bangladesh.
The speakers opined that there is also scope of rebranding Bangladesh in Canada as a market of skilled labour and high-end products to change the mindset of (being considered as a) cheap labour and unskilled labour market.
They also stressed the need for opening visa office and easing visa process for Bangladeshis in the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka.
These views came from a webinar styled 'Canada Bangladesh Bilateral Trade, Investment and Education and how to take it to the next level'.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Bangladesh High Commission, Ottawa, Canada, and Canada-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CanCham Bangladesh) jointly organised the webinar.
Speaking at the event, Commerce Secretary Dr. Jafar Uddin said Bangladesh is a very promising destination for Canadian investment in sectors like pharmaceuticals, ICT, infrastructure and education etc.
He also said the ministry has taken initiatives to promote and develop sectors like footwear, light engineering and ICT to increase competitiveness and create more employment.
Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Benoit Prefontaine said the two countries are an excellent match as trading partners.
"We both have products, services and competitive advantages that are compatible, but not competitive with one another."
The countries are moving away from being just development partners to trade and investment cooperation partners, which is deepening their bilateral relationship.
He added that cooperation in education sector will further increase people to people relationship between the countries.
Speaking at the programme, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to Canada Md Mizanur Rahman said Bangladesh-Canada bilateral trade increased to Canadian Dollar (CAD) 3.1 billion in 2019 from CAD 2.24 billion in 2017.
He further said potential areas of trade from Bangladesh to Canada are shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, leather and leather goods, and IT.
Chairman of Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) Professor Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam gave the keynote speech.
Executive Director of South Asia Division of Global Affairs Canada Gillian Frost said the number of Bangladeshi people has been continuously growing in Canada, and they have been contributing significantly to the country's prosperity.
She noted that Canada has been one of the major development partners of Bangladesh since its independence.
There are areas of untapped relationship between the two countries, including infrastructure, education and healthcare, she added.
President of Leather goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) Md. Saiful Islam said Bangladesh is now producing high-end footwear products, and the country has immense potentials to expand its market in Canada.
President of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Syed Almas Kabir highlighted cooperation and collaboration in ICT between entrepreneurs of two countries.
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) of Saskatchewan University Dr. Steven Webb said there are scopes of partnership in food security, agriculture and agro-based products.
He opined that bilateral partnership extends further development of research and exchange of knowledge.
President of Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Rupali Chowdhury urged Canadian businessmen to invest in the economic zones in Bangladesh.
She also requested the High Commission of Canada in Dhaka to start visa section against the backdrop of increasing cooperation between the countries.
Ms Chowdhury said Canadian companies should hire Bangladeshi graduates for their market, especially in ICT sector.
Secretary and CEO of Public Private Partnership Authority of Bangladesh Sultana Afroz said foreign direct investment share of Canada in Bangladesh is not even among the top 20 countries.
She noted that there are many scopes of investment, and the authority is ready to help the Canadian investors in this regard.
CanCham Bangladesh President Masud Rahman delivered the address of welcome.
He said Canadian and Bangladeshi educational institutions may form partnerships to realise potentials in the sector.
He also urged the high commission to open visa process for Bangladeshis in the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka.
Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Md Sirazul Islam chaired and moderated the event.
Executive Director of Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong Sophia Chan-Combrink, and CEO of Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce in Canada Steve Mclellan also spoke at the event.
Bangladesh mainly exports apparel products, frozen fish, plastic items, headwear, footwear, ceramic products, toys, games and sports equipment and furniture to Canada.
Bangladesh primarily imports red lentils, cereals, edible oil, oil seeds, miscellaneous fruit items, fertiliser, mechanical appliances, wood pulp, paper/paperboard, scraps, and optical, medical, scientific and technical instruments from Canada.