JBCCI president sees increased investment in coming days
Rafiqul Islam Azad: Japanese entrepreneurs and businessmen are interested to consider Bangladesh as their new destination for investment, says Myung-HoLee, president of the Japan-Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCI).
He termed the recent visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Japan at the invitation of her counterpart prime minister of Japan Fumio Kishida as successful and productive one.
Myung-Ho Lee, who is also General Manager and Country Representative of Mitsubishi Corporation in Dhaka, was exchanging views with a group of journalists at his office recently. He recalled that during a business summit with top leading businessmen and the selected Japanese Business Leaders (CEOs) at Sakura, The Westin in Tokyo, the Bangladesh premier urged them to lift business and investment relationship between Bangladesh and Japan to the next higher-level valuing 50 years’ bilateral relations of the countries.
As Bangladesh is heading towards the national election, Japanese investors and entrepreneurs are observing the situation closely and hopeful for a promising situation in the coming days to expand their businesses in Bangladesh further.
Myung-Ho Leesaid, the new foreign investment decision before the national election year usually tends to slow down in several cases, until the investors can confirm the stability of the investment rule, politics, economy, and even after the election. However, the bilateral trade between the two nations will keep growing continuously.
He said the Japanese businessmen are looking for Government’s Policy for better incentives offer, tax, and customs duty-related issues to be more friendly to support existing Japanese investors to expand their businesses here.
The JBCCI president also noted that if the support in tax policy could be considered similar in the case of Bangladeshi and Japanese businessmen and concerned authorities should ensure that in the greater interest of new Japanese investment.
He said the PPED (Public-Private Joint Economic Dialog) meeting between Bangladesh and Japanese Government will play a vital role to solve obstacles faced by the Japanese entities. The JBCCI appreciate that the Bangladesh Government is working on solving the pending issues including salary payment issues of expats.
Meanwhile, Dhaka to Tokyo direct commercial flight will be introduced by BimanBangladesh Airlines sometime in September which will take only around 6 hours to travel between Japan and Bangladesh. Along with this, the signing of the Agreement on 8 instruments between Japan and Bangladesh will play a tremendous role in developing bilateral trade relations to a new level.
Myung-Ho Leementioned that even under the duress of the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral trade with Japan continued to grow significantly and crossed the USD 4 billion milestone for the first time during Fiscal Year 2021-22.
“The number of Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh has gone up steadily in the last few years, especially since 2014 when we entered into our ‘comprehensive partnership, and Japan’s commitment under the Big-B initiative,” he said. Currently, there are more than 330 Japanese companies operating their businesses in Bangladesh.
He said that the Japanese business people are also following this increasing trend in Bangladesh’s business, and would be positively inclined to either expanding Japan’s existing businesses or opening new ones in Bangladesh.
The existing investment in Bangladesh should be lucrative to Japanese companies as the latter compares with neighboring countries in South Asia and ASEAN region as the better places to put their investment, he noted.
The JBCCI chief said that Bangladesh should improve its business environment, remove bureaucratic tangles and impart timely decisions to lure Japanese investment on a large scale. Bangladesh cannot delay taking decisions and steps in this issue as other competitive countries like India, and other growing ASEAN countries such as Viet Nam, and Cambodia are also emerging day by day.
According to the data of Bangladesh Bank (BB), Bangladesh attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) worth 3439.63 million US dollars in 2021-22 Fiscal year with Japanese FDI recording at only 122.72 million. Japan held the ninth position in terms of attracting FDI in Bangladesh (3.6 percent of total FDI)
“It is important to improve the improve business environment and ensure a favorable field so that Japanese entrepreneurs can do business smoothly in Bangladesh,” JBCCI president said.
“Bangladesh is fast emerging as a highly lucrative location for investment in terms of competitive cost, abundant human resources, sizable domestic consumer market with high purchasing power and growing middle class,” he said.
As Bangladesh will come out of the least developed countries (LDCs) graduation by 2026 and is at risk of losing special trade privileges (GSP duty benefit) in Japan, he said that Bangladesh will start taking the necessary preparations in the right time to face the post-LDC graduation challenges.
Meanwhile, the EPA Joint Study group from Both sides has started working from April 2023 and hopefully, this Joint study may take another place 1-2 times more this year to enter into EPA negotiation stages sooner between Japan and Bangladesh before Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC status in 2026 Nov. JBCCI also formed a Standing Committee for EPA/FTA to work on this issue and provide support to this EPA Joint Study from the private sector point of view.
Myung-Ho Lee, however, said that the Japanese government will surely try to stand beside Bangladesh and has reiterated his country’s interest to sign deals like EPA with Bangladesh to boost the trade between the two countries.
He said that Japan attaches priority on its relationship with Bangladesh in the areas of trade, commerce, investment and economy.
To a question of recruiting Bangladeshi workers in the Japanese labor market, he mentioned that Bangladesh’s abundant excellent young forces will contribute to supplementing Japan’s manpower shortage especially in value-added sector such as ICT and engineering, if young Bangladeshi can manage minimum Japanese Language to work in Japan.
According to the data of Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET), Bangladesh only exported a total of 193 workers to Japan during the period of January-March in 2023. During the same period, Bangladesh exported a total of 323,010 workers to different countries.
Bangladesh exported a total of 2,740 workers to Japan (just 0.02% of its total labor exports) during 1999-2022 period as the country sent a total of 508 workers to the G-7 country, the highest number in one calendar year.
Bangladesh exported only three workers in 2021, 142 workers in 2020, 229 workers in 2019, 163 workers in 2018, 145 workers in 2017, 165 workers in 2016, 95 workers in 2015, 55 workers in 2014, 41 workers in 2013 and 420 workers in 2012, according to the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET).
Japan’s immigration authorities last month proposed expanding the scope of a blue-collar skilled worker’s visa that effectively allows holders to stay in the country indefinitely in a possible major shift in its foreign labor policy.
Staff Correspondent: The 77th birthday of Prime Minister and Awami League (AL) President S…