Diplomatic Correspondent: Dhaka and Ottawa are likely to ink two key pacts to increase Canadian trade and investment in Bangladesh.
“The free trade pact and the foreign investment promotion and protection agreement between the two countries are on the table,” Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to Canada, Dr Khalil Rahman said.
The veteran diplomat was addressing a virtual meeting of the Canada-Bangladesh Joint Working Group on Strengthening Commercial Relations on Monday night.
Citing the complexity of Canadian visa process as a major obstacle to bilateral trade, the High Commissioner said that “discussions are also underway to set up a visa office at the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka”. Mentioning the Business Council of Canada’s (BCC) interest in Bangladesh, the High Commissioner said the organisation sought sector-based information from the Bangladesh High Commission in Canada.
The High Commissioner also proposed the signing of an MoU between the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) and the BCC to strengthen Canada-Bangladesh trade and investment relations.
FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin, co-chair of the meeting for Bangladesh, said that the plastics industry is one of the most promising sectors for Canadian entrepreneurs to invest in. “In addition to the huge domestic market, the world market also has strong export potential.”
Moreover, he spoke about the huge demand for plastic products as a backward linkage industry in the readymade garments, pharmaceuticals, engineering and automobile industries.
President of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA), Shamim Ahmed presented a report on the market and investment prospects of the plastics industry.
“Some 1.2 million people are working in the sector and direct and indirect exports are worth 1 billion US dollars. The sector is growing at an average rate of 4 percent per year. All the 29 sub-sectors of plastics have export potential.”
He also mentioned the various policy assistance provided by the government for foreign investors.
President of the Canada-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Masud Rahman presented a report on the Canada-Bangladesh investment prospects at the meeting.
According to the report, Bangladesh’s infrastructure sector could be one of the biggest investment opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs. “Canadians can contribute to the development of this sector through public-private partnerships.”
“Therefore, the country’s investment bank, Export Development Canada (EDC), can play a role in increasing investment in the country through the formation of ‘Bangladesh Fund’. Canadian Pension Fund may also appear to be a good source for financing investment in Bangladesh,” he added.
Md. Saiful Islam, a member of the working group and director of the FBCCI, emphasised the need for working out a specific course of action to increase bilateral trade to 2 billion dollars.
He called on Canadian entrepreneurs to invest and transfer technology in the agricultural sector.
Nuzhat Tam-Zaman, the co-chair from the Canadian side, said the joint working group should work on education too.
She said that more Bangladeshi students should be brought to Canadian universities. “Then the number of Bangladeshis in Canada’s skilled human resource immigration will also increase.”
President of the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership Chris Decker, leader of Energy Sector Group Gowling WLG Tom Timmins, and Secretary General of the FBCCI Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque were present in the meeting.
The meeting was moderated by Angela Dark, Senior Trade Commissioner, Canadian High Commission.
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