The country’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs) are now contributing some 20 percent to the total national exports along with attracting local and foreign investment and generating huge employment opportunities.
BEPZA had set 55 performance indicators in its Annual Performance Report for the 2017-18 fiscal in line with five strategic objectives in order to achieve annual targets
BEPZA sources said that the number of indicators was 48 in the last APA for the 2016-17 fiscal. BEPZA was ranked the highest among organisations under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in accomplishing targets set in the Annual Performance Agreement for FY 2014-15 and 2015-16. This trend of success was continued in the APA of the recently ended 2017-18 FY.
For the 2018-19 fiscal, BEPZA put forward five strategic objectives, including promotion of local and foreign investment, boosting exports, employment and workers welfare, improvement of services, and transfer of technology.
Bringing in US$ 275 million investment, operations of 8 new industries, export of goods worth US$ 6000 million and generation of 15000 new employment opportunities were the expected achievement of BEPZA put in the performance agreement of 2017-18. The notable part of the agreement was the beginning of development work of BEPZA Economic Zone in Mirsarai depending of course on the preparation and approval of the Development Project Proposal (DPP). Allotment of plots to investors through removing the old structure of mill area-2 of Adamjee EPZ has been included in the agreement as challenge.
The organisations under the PMO — BEZA, BIDA PPPA, NGOAB and Ashrayan — had also signed the APA for FY 2017-18.
A congenial and industrial friendly atmosphere, good infrastructure facilities, reduction of lead time, less cost of doing business and attractive incentives have been features of the EPZs which have stimulated investment generating exports, said insiders. According to the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA), a significant share of the country’s foreign exchange earnings comes via EPZ exports. They accounted for 20.58 percent of total exports in the July-March period of the just-concluded fiscal 2017-18.
During this period, EPZ exports saw earnings of $5.34 billion, which is 20.58 percent of the total 25.95 billion earnings.
Data show that the concluded fiscal 2016-17 witnessed $6.55 billion from EPZ exports, which accounts for 18.80 percent of total exports. An analysis of conditions reveals that exports almost doubled in 6 years, with the EPZs accelerating the total national earnings. The earnings amounted to $3.69 billion in FY 2010-11, reaching a figure of $6.55 billion in FY 2016-17. However, from the perspective of contribution to the total national exports in percentage, FY 2010-saw 16.13 percent and the later years saw raises to current level facing ups and down.
Statistics show that EPZ contributions declined to 18.80 percent in the 2016-17 fiscal while it was 19.50 percent in FY 2015-16 and 19.59 percent in FY2014-15.
However, the eight EPZs witnessed exports worth $64billion in cumulative performance till March 2018 since their establishment. Chattogram EPZ accounted for $28.25 billion, Dhaka EPZ $24.24 billion, Cumilla EPZ $2.31 billion, Mongla EPZ $0.52 milion, Uttara EPZ $0.75 million, Ishwardi EPZ $0.65 million, Adamjee EPZ $3.47 billion and Karnaphuli EPZ $4.51 billion, according to a report published by BEPZA recently.
The report also shows figures for of 141 local investors — 76 South Korean, 38 Chinese, 31 Japanese, 29 Taiwan, 28 Hong Kong, 23 Indian, 18 British, 16 American, 9 Pakistani, 8 Malaysian, 7 Sri Lankan, 7 Canadian, 6 Netherlands, 5 Germany, 4 British Virgin Island, 3 Italian, 3 Singapore, 3 French, 2 Indonesian, 2 Spain, 2 Denmark — and others from many countries invested a total amount of $4.59 billion in those EPZs till March 2018.
The report says, Chattogram EPZ received $1.62 billion investment and generated 201,349 employments, while the Dhaka created 92,702 and got $1.35 billion, Cumilla 29,795 and $0.31 billion, Mongla 28,16 and $0.056 billion, Uttara 28,575 and $0.15 billion, Ishwardi 10,061 and $0.12 billion, Adamjee 58,201 and $0.46 billion and Karnaphuli EPZ produced 71,037 employment and attained $0.52 billion investments.
Manufactured products like garments goods, RMG accessories, knit and other textile accessories, footwear and leather, terry towel, Furniture, electric and electrical, plastic, metal, agricultural goods, paper and chemical products, jewelry and so on are produced in the EPZs.
Experts and businesses have opined that the present business world is continuously expanding due to the course of globalization and international trade in a spontaneous way. As a developing country Bangladesh has made its mark in this international business environment with the help of its Export Processing Zones (EPZ), which are places provided by the government and are specialized in manufacturing export oriented products and services maintained by proper standards and guidelines.

Zahid Hossain Biplob with Belal Muntasir