Bangladesh offered 40 industrial plots in export processing zones exclusively to Japanese entrepreneurs as they have been showing interest for a long time now.
Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) and Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) signed an agreement to this effect in Tokyo yesterday in presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Under the deal, Bepza will reserve industrial plots at the Ishwardi, Mongla and Uttara EPZs for the Japanese investors.
Bepza will also allocate factory buildings to the Japanese investors in the Adamjee and Comilla EPZs where there are no vacant plots at the moment, according to a Bepza statement.
“Japanese investors have been demanding an exclusive EPZ for them as they consider Bangladesh a lucrative destination for investment for its ready labour force,” Kei Kawano, Jetro representative in Bangladesh, said from Tokyo by phone.
“There is a shortage of labour everywhere. Bangladesh has an adequate number of workers. This is the main reason behind growing Japanese investment here,” he said.
Investment proposals from Japan worth $1.2 billion are pending at Board of Investment in Bangladesh for a long time, he said.
Many Japanese investors in the sectors of automobiles, garments and fabrics, electronics and fast moving consumers goods are showing interest in investing in Bangladesh for a long time, he added. At present, 181 Japanese companies have operations in Bangladesh, Kawano said.
Japanese entrepreneurs have been shifting their investments to other countries since the Japanese government announced the 'China plus one' policy in 2008 to reduce over-dependence on China.
As a result, some Asian countries like Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are receiving an increased number of Japanese investments.
The bilateral trade balance between the two countries is heavily tilted towards Japan, as Bangladesh imports vehicles, electronic goods and spare parts. On the other hand, Bangladesh exports apparel items, leather and leather goods, and footwear to Japan.
In fiscal 2012-13, Bangladesh exported goods worth $750.27 million to Japan, against $600.52 million in the previous year, according to data from Export Promotion Bureau.In 2012-13, Bangladesh imported goods worth $1.19 billion from Japan against $1.45 billion in the previous year, according to Bangladesh Bank.
There are 35 Japanese enterprises worth an investment of $291.05 million in the EPZs alone, of which 25 are in operation and 10 are being implemented, according to the statement.
A total of 11,203 Bangladeshis, 78 Japanese and 55 from other countries are working in these enterprises.