Let’s be partners in the quest for prosperity: HPM Sheikh Hasina to Cambodian business community


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon the Cambodian business community to explore all avenues to do business in Bangladesh for the prosperity of the two countries.

"Let's be partners in the quest for prosperity of our two peoples ... together we can bring a change in the life of millions of our people," she told a Bangladesh-Cambodia business dialogue as the chief guest at Hotel Sofitel here this afternoon.

The Cambodia Chamber of Commerce organised the event where Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali were present as the special guests.

President of Cambodia Chamber of Commerce Kith Meng and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin also spoke at the function while Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand Saida Muna Tasneem gave the vote of thanks.

Cambodian Women Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Pahvi and Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority Kazi Aminul Islam were present on the dais while leading businessmen of Cambodia attended the dialogue.

The prime minister said the Cambodian business community could take the advantage of Bangladesh's location as the hub of regional economic activities as the country increasingly gets integrated with the economic corridors of China, Myanmar and India.

"I'm sure that Bangladeshi business people will be equally interested in exploring business opportunities in Cambodia" she said. Mentioning the agreement of cooperation between the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, she said it would boost mutual trade and investment between the two countries.

"I strongly believe that the institutional cooperation thus established between the two chambers would be instrumental in augmenting mutual trade and investment," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said traditionally, Bangladesh enjoys close commercial and other links with most of the ASEAN member countries. Bangladesh finds itself as a `land-bridge` between South Asia and Southeast Asia and gives special emphasis on expansion of trade, investment with ASEAN neighbours, she said.

Unfortunately, she said, bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Cambodia, which is less than 10 million USD per annum, does not reflect the true potential. "Our trade with other ASEAN countries is growing fast and I wish this to be replicated with Cambodia as well," she said.

The premier said Bangladesh is now ranked 33rd largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). "From subsistence agriculture, it is becoming a modern, process oriented, diversified and value added one," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has the most liberal investment policy in South Asia. "It includes protection of foreign investment by law, generous tax holiday, concessionary duty on import of machinery, remittances of royalty, 100% foreign equity, unrestricted exit policy, full repatriation of dividend and capital on exit and many more," she said.

Other advantages, she said, include the young, industrious and easily trainable workforce with competitive wages, cheaper costs of establishing business and duty-free quota-free access to the markets of EU, Australia, Canada, India, Japan and New Zealand.

The premier said Bangladesh's success in the readymade garments (RMG) sector is known to the world. Like the RMG sector, other sectors are making significant progress and pharmaceutical is such a sector.

"After meeting up 97% of our domestic requirement, Bangladesh's pharmaceutical products are exported to 120 countries, including the USA and EU countries," she said.

She said the industry is now equipped to produce biotech products and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API). Bangladesh is fast emerging as a major global hub for high quality, low-cost generic medicines, she added.

She said Bangladesh's knowledge industry, ICT and related industry is also expanding rapidly. "Shipbuilding is another fast emerging industry in Bangladesh. Our builders have drawn global attention by making world-class light to medium size ocean going vessels," she said.

The premier said Bangladesh is now establishing 100 'Economic Zones' (EZs) in different parts of the country as part of its new plan to industrialize Bangladesh. "We're also developing a number of Hi-tech Parks in Bangladesh for IT industries and investment," she said.

In 2016-17, she said, Bangladesh's economy posted a GDP growth rate of 7.28%, a foreign currency reserve of USD 32.1 billion, and exports worth USD 34.66 billion.

"We're transforming lives of 162 million people to a digitalized knowledge- based society driven by our 'Digital Bangladesh' vision," Sheikh Hasina said.

She said poverty has been slashed from 57% to 22% in less than two decades, while life expectancy increased to 72 years.

"GDP per capita is now US Dollar 1,610 and our GDP has crossed USD 250 billion," she said.

Pointing out her today's talks with the Cambodian premier, she said she had discussion with her Cambodian counterpart where he had said that the Bangladeshi businesses should come in Cambodia.

"We've a very good opportunity in Cambodia. We can produce food grains and set up food processing industries in Cambodia that can solve the need of ours as well as Cambodia and we can even export outside," she said.

She also hoped that the Bangladeshi businessmen would feel interested in producing food grains and food items in Cambodia.

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