The Bangladesh government announced it would set up an exclusive export zone for Japan in an attempt to lure Japanese investors and entrepreneurs seeking new investment destinations.
In the first Bangladesh-Japan Public-Private Economic Dialogue, representatives from the two countries discussed this and many other plans. Bangladesh commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said, “We have a plan to set up eight new economic zones across the country. We may allow the zone at Mirsarai in Chittagong for Japanese investors.”
According to Bangladesh’s The Daily Star, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina offered 40 industrial plots in export processing zones to Japanese entrepreneurs during her trip to Japan in May. Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) will reserve the plots at Ishwardi, Mongla and Uttara export processing zones (EPZs) for Japan. Investors of automobile, garment, fabric and electronic products are interested in acquiring these plots. Bepza will also assign factory buildings in Adamjee and Comilla EPZs.
Bepza reported that there are 35 Japanese businesses with an investment of $291.05 million just in EPZs alone, 24 of which are in operation and the other 10 are being implemented.
Many Japanese investors and entrepreneurs have begun to move their investments from China over to other nations since the country adopted the “China Plus One” policy to reduce its dependence on Beijing. Japan has since turned to countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh, among others, The Daily Star reported. About 181 Japanese companies have operations in Bangladesh.
The trade balance between Bangladesh and Japan leads in Japan’s favor. Data from the Export Promotion Bureau revealed that from 2012-2013, Bangladesh exported goods worth $750.27 million to Japan. Exported goods included apparel, footwear and leather products. During the same period, Bangladesh imported goods—primarily vehicles, electronic goods and spare parts—from Japan worth $1.19 billion from Japan.
During the meeting, the countries also discussed the construction of Bangladesh’s largest ever power plant in Matarbari. Japan has decided to lend $1.18 billion to create the power plant and start work on four other projects. The second Bangladesh-Japan Public-Private Economic Dialogue will be held in Japan next year.