Commerce ministry is set to establish four specialised technology centres (TCs) in economic zones (EZs) with an eye to boosting export earnings through adopting new technologies.
Under a project, it will establish three state-of-the-art TCs at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in Chattogram and a specialised design and technology centre at Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City in Gazipur.
To this effect, the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) Project signed on Tuesday two land lease agreements with Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA).
BEZA executive member Md Abdul Mannan, BHTPA director ANM Safiqul Islam and EC4J project director Md Obaidul Azam inked the deals on their organisations' behalf at the BEZA headquarters.
Other guests joined the signing ceremony virtually.
Commerce minister Tipu Munshi joined as the chief guest and PM's private industry and investment adviser Salman F Rahman and state minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak as special guests.
BEZA executive chairman Paban Chowdhury and BHTPA managing director Hosne Ara Begum, among others, also joined the ceremony chaired by commerce secretary Dr Md Jafar Uddin.
As per the agreement, the EC4J project has received an allocation of 10 acres of land at the Shilpa Nagar and 4.04 acres at the Hi-Tech City.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Munshi said the initiative will help Bangladesh attain its economic goals as there is no alternative but to adopt new technologies.
He recognised the need for expanding different export-oriented sectors in addition to apparel to sustain the current economic growth.
"Excepting RMG (ready-made garment), no other sector has so far crossed the billion-dollar milestone, but it's imperative to promote other sectors," he added.
The minister expects that different initiatives taken under the EC4J project will yield the desired results.
The project aims to strengthen the country's status in international trade focusing on leather, footwear, plastics and light-engineering sector.
Adviser Mr Rahman said Bangladesh is yet to diversify its export basket at a desired level although many steps have been taken.
Identifying different bottlenecks for export-oriented sectors, he said there is a lack of internationally accredited full-fledged laboratories in Bangladesh.
"International testing laboratories in Bangladesh can only examine level-1 and level-2 gowns at present, but no lab for testing masks and higher standard gowns."
Mr Rahman further said that such protective equipment have become a key export item in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
The government is bringing in a wide range of reforms to enhance the country's position in the ease-of-doing business index prepared by the World Bank, he added.
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