Bangladesh is becoming the new frontier of investment in Asia destined to shine up and transform, says Japanese envoy in Dhaka.
"As per Japanese investment prospects from the investors' point of view, Bangladesh will establish itself as a destination of China Plus One investment. Companies are now looking for investment destinations beyond China," he said.
Ambassador Ito Naoki made the remarks while speaking at "DCAB Talk" organised by the Diplomatic Correspondent Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) at Jatiya Press Club on Thursday (October 14).
DCAB President Pantho Rahaman and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke at the event.
"Bangladesh is destined to shine up and transform, but still needs to work hard. Opportunities and possibilities are here. We just need the environment. A big infrastructure like those of Padma Bridge and Dhaka Metro Rail is are coming within five years," he added
In this context, the Japanese envoy highlighted that the Araihazar special economic zone is ready and expecting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from companies by the end of next year.
The Japanese Ambassador has also highly appreciated Bangladesh's achievement in Covid-19 management under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership terming it a “great achievement” and assured of supplying more vaccine doses next month (November 2021).
He said this is really a wonderful achievement and great efforts by the Bangladesh government and its people.
Since the need of vaccination goes on, Ambassador Ito said they plan to provide vaccine doses further, mainly through COVAX in November. He also said the two countries are going to sign exchange of note to provide budget support focusing on the health sector.
The Japanese envoy said this is the sign of willingness to continue to support to Bangladesh as the Covid-19 pandemic is a global crisis. “It’s important that we join hands. Japan will continue to stand by Bangladesh.”
He also mentioned that there is another project in the pipeline and hoped that by end of this year or early next year they will be able to provide supports for the ICUs and related facilities.
Expressing satisfaction over the supply of 3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh, the Ambassador said those doses were effectively utilized. He said it is gratifying that the number of infection has been coming down since early September.
The Ambassador said Japan is the most impactful development partner of Bangladesh and there is no doubt that the two countries have excellent political relations. “We have not seen high level visits due to Covid pandemic but I am sure, there will be resumption of high level talks and exchanges.”
On Japan's contribution to Bangladesh's large-scale infrastructure development, the envoy said the infrastructure situation will be very different with due transformation in five years’ time.
Ambassador Ito hoped that the FDI flow from Japan would increase with increased trade volume and greater presence of Japanese cooperation. "We’ll step up our pragmatic cooperation," said the Japanese Ambassador.
He said the success of Araihazar Economic Zone will help promoting two other Japanese economic zones in Mirsarai and in Matarbari. And these successes will result in huge Japanese investment in Bangladesh.
Responding to a question, he said the Matarbari deep-sea and power plant projects are part of the Indo-Pacific vision for a more open and peaceful Indian and pacific oceans. “This will be a regional connectivity hub with deep-sea ports, power plants, LNG terminals and other mega infrastructure projects.”
He further said that with 30 meter draft the Matarbari port can harbor large ocean-going ships. The present Chittagong seaport has a draft of only 9 meter and goods for Japan need to be carried to Singapore first. From there, they are transferred to Japan-bound mother vessels. So when the Matarbari port will be operational this trouble will be removed permanently.
On the Rohingya issue, the Japanese Ambassador said the signing of a deal between Bangladesh and the UNHCR to begin UN engagement in Bhasan Char will pave the way for even better cooperation and coordination on the Rohingya repatriation process.
“It’s very important that the international community puts pressure on Myanmar as part of the repatriation work and emphasized the importance of peace and stability in the region.
In reply to a question, the Ambassador said there has been pressure coming through UN resolutions which is of course one way while the other possibility is direct contact or direct representation. “I would say Japan has been doing this by making use of the channels that Japan has established. So, we directly communicated with the Myanmar military side,” he added.
Ito said the way the international community puts pressure on Myanmar is different from country to country. “Sometimes concerted effort is important, sometimes individual effort is important but we really need to continue this sort of effort even in the very difficult situation.”
He said if the Rohingya situation becomes unstable the goal of peace and stability will not be achieved and that is why Japan has been trying very hard to address the Rohingya issue and reiterated that Japan will seize the opportunity to find a long-term and lasting solution to the Rohingya crisis with the Myanmar side.
Japan’s Rohingya-related humanitarian assistance in Bangladesh amounts to US$ 159 million which supports the Rohingya people and host communities through international organizations and NGOs.