Bangladesh is becoming the new frontier of investment in Asia--- destined to shine and transform, the Japanese envoy in Dhaka has said on Thursday.
"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.
DCAB President Pantho Rahaman and its General Secretary AKM Moinuddin also spoke at the event.
"Bangladesh is destined to shine and transform, but still needs to work hard. Opportunities and possibilities are here. We just need the environment. Large infrastructures like Padma Bridge and Dhaka Metro Rail are coming within five years," he added.
The Ambassador said Japanese companies may not be the first to come and make investments and explore this new market but once good infrastructure and environment are ensured, Japanese companies will make a long-term commitment to the market.
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 lauded 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 a great effort by the Bangladesh government and its people.
He said this is a sign of willingness to continue to support 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 by end of this year or early next year, Japan will be able to provide support for the ICUs and related facilities.
Expressing satisfaction over the supply of 3 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Bangladesh, the Ambassador said the vaccines were effectively utilized. He said it is gratifying that the number of infections has been coming down in Bangladesh 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-19 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.
Ambassador Ito hoped that the FDI flow from Japan would increase with increased trade volume and a 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 promote two other Japanese economic zones in Mirsarai and 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 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 harbour large ocean-going ships. The present Chittagong seaport has a draft of only 9 meters 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 becomes 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 $159 million which supports the Rohingya people and host communities through international organizations and NGOs.