Golam Shahnee
Bangladesh’s trade deficit with Thailand is very wider as the country’s import from this ASEAN country is much higher compared to its export there.
The Bangladesh-Thailand Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BTCCI) is working with the government to reduce the gap to a logical and favourable level through enhancing the country’s export to that country.
To overcome growing trade deficit with Thailand, the government of Bangladesh is working to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand. Once the FTA is signed, it would help boost Bangladesh’s export to Thailand and also raise its investment here.
Sajjatuz Jumma, President of the BTCCI and Chairman of Desh Electronics Limited said this in an interview with Bangladesh Post.
At present, the investment from Thailand to Bangladesh is not satisfactory, he said, adding “We are trying to increase Thai investment here because they have the capacity to engage funds in Bangladesh.”
There are some bottlenecks that hinder Thai investment in Bangladesh, he said. Shipment of goods between Bangladesh and Thailand is usually high and we are trying to establish shipping link between Chattogram port in Bangladesh to Ranong port of Thailand that would reduce shipping time to 3-4 days instead of 15-16 days at present.
Bangladesh and Thailand are working on modalities to start direct coastal shipping, connecting the Chittagong Port in the Bay of Bengal with the Ranong Port in the East of the Andaman coast in south-western Thailand.
Officials of Thailand port authority have visited Chattogram port and two sides are working to overcome the problem.
The government is working with the entrepreneurs to boost Bangladesh’s export with Thailand and also enhancing investment from that country here, said BTCCI chief adding, the immediate past Bangladesh High Commissioner to Thailand Saida Tasneema Muna has taken numerous initiatives like holding trade fair, single country roadshow in Thailand.
Bangladesh private sector led by BTCCI participated at those trade shows and we had held business meetings with Thai counterparts where the investment potentials in Bangladesh was highlighted focusing the favourable environment for the foreign investors.
Thai investment in various sectors like power and energy, infrastructure, agriculture, automobiles, fisheries, light engineering, textiles sectors are much prospective in Bangladesh and they (Thai investors) are interested in those fields.
Though Thai investors are conservative in making investment in Bangladesh as they prefer Japan and South Korea, we are trying to convince them so that they become interested for Bangladesh.
“To attract investment from Thailand, we have proposed the government for establishing a dedicated Thailand Economic Zone in Bangladesh and the BEZA is considering that,” said BTCCI chief.
“Thailand is a very prospective country in making investment in automobiles sector and auto parts making industry,” he added.
Describing the investment scenario in Bangladesh, he said “At present, Bangladesh’s investment environment is very congenial, especially it is very much friendly for foreign investors.”
Present political situation is also very favourable for investment as there is no political unrest and no hartal. Besides, financing facilities are very wide as banks are very much pro-active in supporting ventures, especially joint venture projects. “Banks make investment for feasible projects,” he added.
Talking about the business growth of his company – Desh Electronics, he said “I used to market Thailand-made air conditioners as there are a number of good brands there. But many of them are closed as the market has shrunk. So, I advised many of them to relocate their factories in Bangladesh. If they set up manufacturing units here, they would be able to market the products in Bangladesh and export to other markets also.