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FTA, FIPA negotiations with Canada underway; Bangladesh HC to Canada

In order to increase Canadian investment and trade in Bangladesh, free trade and foreign investment promotion and protection agreement between the two countries are on the table, said Bangladesh High Commissioner to Canada Dr Khalil Rahman.

He informed this at a virtual meeting of the Canada-Bangladesh Joint Working Group on Strengthening Commercial Relations on Monday night. Citing the complexity of Canada’s visa processing as a major obstacle to bilateral trade, the High Commissioner said discussions are also underway to set up a visa office at the Canadian High Commission in Dhaka, BSS reports.

Mentioning that Business Council of Canada (BCC) is interested in Bangladesh, the High commissioner informed that the organization sought sector-based information from the Bangladesh High Commission in Canada, said an FBCCI press release.

He requested to send the recommendations and reports made by the joint working group to the BCC. The High Commissioner also proposed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the FBCCI and the BCC to strengthen Canada-Bangladesh trade and investment relations.

FBCCI President Md. Jashim Uddin co-chaired the meeting for Bangladesh. He said the plastic 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, there is a huge demand for plastic products as a backward linkage industry in the readymade garments, pharmaceuticals, engineering and automobile industries.

Earlier, Shamim Ahmed, President of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA), presented a report on the market and investment prospects of the plastics industry.

He said 1.2 million people are working in the plastic sector and direct and indirect exports are worth $1 billion. 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 Canada-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Cancham Bangladesh Masud Rahman presented a report on 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.

Masud suggested signing of Free Trade Agreement, Bilateral Air Transport Agreement, Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, Establishment of Bangladesh Consulate General Office in Vancouver and Honorary Consulate General of Canada in Chattogram, Issuance of On-Arrival Visa to Canadian Citizens in Bangladesh, Extension of GPT and earmarking 100 acres of land in Bangabandhu Industrial Area as Canadian Industrial Zone will strengthen trade and investment between the two countries.

In another report presented at the meeting, Abu Sufian, editor of Travel Magazine “Vromon” and adjunct faculty of Daffodil Int’l University, discussed the potentials of tourism in Bangladesh.

Md. Saiful Islam, a member of the working group and director of the FBCCI, emphasized the need to work out a specific course of action to increase bilateral trade to $2 billion. He called on the Canadian entrepreneurs to invest and transfer technology in the agricultural sector.

During the meeting, Syed Almas Kabir, another member of the working group and director of FBCCI, emphasized on focusing on the 4 to 5 sectors and working accordingly to bring investment and enhance trade.

Nuzhat Tam-Zaman, co-chair from the Canadian side, said the joint working group should work on education. She said more Bangladeshi students need to 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, among others.

The meeting was moderated by Angela Dark, Senior Trade Commissioner, Canadian High Commission.