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Japan-Bangladesh FTA to mark a new era of opportunity

Japan would be a strong contender in Bangladesh’s list for signing an FTA, Planning Minister MA Mannan says at a dialogue titled ‘Bangladesh-Japan Partnership for the Next Development Journey’ organized by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) recently. Where MA Mannan was the Chief Guest. And Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki was present as a special guest.

Speakers at the event highlighted that as Bangladesh prepares to graduate from LDC status, it looks at losing many benefits from trade partners, including from Japan.

Japan-Bangladesh-FTA-opportunity
Figure: Ito Naoki said that Tokyo is considering the start of a joint study on framing the FTA with Bangladesh.

As a solution – speakers stressed that sign free trade agreements (FTAs), and governments of both nations are also seeing this as the most feasible substitute in the near future. Especially with Japan – as Japan-Bangladesh is celebrating 50 years of friendship in 2022.

Ito Naoki said, “Tokyo is considering the start of a joint study on framing the FTA with Bangladesh. And if we can start the process and frame it, then this will help boost our economic partnership.”

“The friendship and cooperation between Japan and Bangladesh have become more robust than ever. The number of Japanese companies investing in Bangladesh has been increasing year by year. Indeed, the investment from Japan has more than tripled in the last 10 years,” Naoki also said.

Ito Naoki has said industries in Bangladesh must be diversified as it may need to cope with the emerging new challenges.

“Expansion of Japanese FDls particularly from the private sector will help Bangladesh address those challenges,” he said.

While MA Mannan said, “Japan would be a strong contender in Bangladesh’s list for signing an FTA.”

“Based on the experiences of the bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and Japan over the last 50 years, we are looking forward to the next 50 years, which are going to be much better, stronger and warmer,” MA Mannan added.

The Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh also said that there is a need to emphasize on training the Bangladeshi workforce for catering to the needs of the Japanese market.

Professor Rehman Sobhan, Chairman of CPD said Japan has been giving funding in many Bangladeshi mega projects, and we hope that Japan would stand beside Bangladesh in the energy sector and in addressing climate change issues.

Syed Yusuf Saadat, research fellow of CPD said in his keynote presentation that Bangladesh’s export to Japan has enlarged over the years and apart from the US and EU, Japan is one of the key trading partners for Bangladesh.

“This is quite significant in the sense that Japan is a very quality sensitive country, which shows that our producers have also, over the years, become more quality compliant,” Yusuf Saadat added.

Saadat noted that Bangladesh has a huge prospective for the export of T-shirts, vests, men’s trousers and jerseys to Japan.

Asif A Chowdhury, President, Japan-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JBCCI) said that Bangladesh should sign FTAs with as many countries as possible including Japan, considering the LDC graduation in mind.

Asif A Chowdhury also suggested forming a special cell on FTA at the Ministry of Commerce like the cell on WTO.

Among others, Kathy Matsui, board member of the Asian University for Women and general partner at MPower Partners; Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of CPD; Dr Kenta Goto, professor of the Faculty of Economics at Kansai University; and Dr Tatsufumi Yamagata, professor of the College of Asia Pacific Studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, also spoke at the dialogue.

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