PM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Bangladesh Special Economic Zone known as the Japanese Economic Zone in Narayanganj’s Araihazar Upazila on Tuesday (December 6). Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA) Executive Chairman Sheikh Yusuf Harun, Sumitomo Corporation President and CEO Masayuki Hyodo and Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki and many others were present on the occasion.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh-Japan diplomatic relations, the establishment of the Japanese Special Economic Zone on the basis of government-to-government agreement in Narayanganj can be said to be a milestone for the country’s economic development and progress. This is certainly surprising good news in the context of global stagnation post-Covid-19 and recession due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Forty foreign companies have already expressed interest in investing in the 1,000-acre industrial city. The amount of which is at least 150 crores in dollars. Employment will be for lakhs of unemployed.
Naturally, the people of 25,000 and surrounding areas are excited and motivated. Because, it will usher in good fortune for them. Poverty will be eradicated. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rightly said in the official opening speech that Bangladesh is the best place for investment in the world. Because Bangladesh can be a market of 300 million people in South Asia through good geographical location and communication infrastructure with sea and sea ports.
The Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA) expects $1.5 billion in investment and employment for around one lakh people when the zone is fully operational. “The economic zone will facilitate technology transfer between Japan and Bangladesh. Besides, a separate one-stop service center and skill development center will be set up in the economic zone,” said Beza Executive Chairman Sheikh Yusuf. He mentioned about the partnership between the Bangladesh government and Japan in the economic zone, where Beza’s share is 24%, JICA’s 15% and Sumitomo Corporation’s share is 61%.
According to Bangladesh Special Economic Zone (BSEZ) data, Japanese investors are interested in investing in this economic zone to expand their business in Bangladesh. BSEZ managing director Taro Kawachi said, “This will be an eco-friendly modern economic zone. By the end of next year, several companies will start manufacturing their products here.” Any domestic and foreign company can invest in this zone. Already 40 foreign companies have expressed interest in investing here, including 30 Japanese companies, he said.
Singer Bangladesh Limited in joint venture with Turkish company Arcelik and German company Rudolph has already started construction of their factory here. They set aside 40 acres of land, of which Singer alone got 35 acres. The multinational electronics and home appliance firm expects to start production at the $78 million green factory by the end of 2023. Initially they want to tap the export opportunities from the plant as well as target the fast-growing local market.
According to media reports, Japan’s Onda Corporation and Nikka Chemicals are expected to sign an investment agreement on December 6 to allocate 10 acres of land each in the region. Of these, Onda will manufacture gas meters and Nikka will manufacture chemicals.
Beza and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation are jointly working to develop this economic zone. After Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Japan in 2014, discussions on this region began. After that visit, the issue was thoroughly discussed during the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Bangladesh.
In 2016, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) undertook a feasibility study to establish the economic zone, and the same year the Japanese government recommended the appointment of the world-renowned Sumitomo Corporation as the developer. After a feasibility study in 2018, JICA gave its opinion in favor of setting up a Japanese economic zone at Araihajar in Narayanganj.
An agreement was signed between Beja and Sumitomo Corporation in 2019 to establish this joint venture economic zone. Beza Executive Chairman Sheikh Yusuf said that Beza started land acquisition and land development work in the proposed area in 2019.
He said, “The first phase of the development program of 500 acres of land, including the construction of link roads, retention ponds and power and water supply systems under the infrastructure development project, is nearing completion.”
Moreover, the construction of internal roads, gas, electricity and water supply lines has started.
So far 180 acres of developed land has been handed over to Bangladesh Special Economic Zone for setting up industrial plants. Sheikh Yusuf said that the remaining lands will be handed over soon.
Moreover, there are one-stop services including electricity-gas-fuel-water and special utilities. All in all, favorable investment friendly policies and laws. There is political stability with a democratic environment. Adequate labor resources available cheaply. As all the countries that invest in Bangladesh will benefit, the development and prosperity of Bangladesh will also be ensured.
Due to the spread of the global epidemic including the origin and development of the Covid-19 or the coronavirus, China’s image has been damaged in the international arena. China’s ‘trade war’ with the US was already underway. Corona has added an extra dimension to it. Anti-Chinese countries are gradually withdrawing trade and commerce from that country, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia are also elsewhere. Bangladesh is relatively ahead in this aspect.
Bangladesh has been included in the second round of subsidy program announced by the Japanese government to move entrepreneurs’ factories from China. It is to be noted that earlier, the Japanese government has given subsidies to support the relocation of 87 companies’ factories from China. In addition to this, Japan has also signed an agreement to hire hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi skilled workers in at least 15 sectors in the next five years. But they must know the language of that country. This also marked the beginning of Japanese investment in Bangladesh as well as transfer of industries and skilled human resources to that country.
But only setting up industries will not do. At the same time, internal and international road communication network with proper infrastructure is essential for the expansion of trade and inter-trade. Bangladesh government has also given due attention and importance to that. Inter-road communication and trade activities have already started with India, Nepal and Bhutan. Recently, a plan has been taken to construct a four-lane Sylhet-Tamabil 56 km highway at a cost of 3.5 billion taka. When completed by 2025, regional road connectivity network will be established with at least 6 countries, which will increase trade and commerce.
Foreign investment in Bangladesh is gradually increasing. Bangladesh Special Economic Zone (Japanese Economic Zone in Bangladesh) was inaugurated last Tuesday (December 06). So far, 30 Japanese companies and 10 companies from other countries have expressed interest in investing here. The world-famous Singer and German company Rudolph signed an investment agreement.
150 crores or 15 thousand crores of investment has been assured. In the meantime, the work has started in the special economic zones of other countries including Korea, India. Power hub, deep sea port and other facilities are being developed in Cox’s Bazar’s Matarbari with the cooperation of Japan. Payra power plant, developed in cooperation with China, has started production. The production of Rampal power plant will start soon with the help of India. The production of the nuclear power project built with the help of Russia may start in 2023. Payra port operations are gaining momentum. The commercial potential of the southern region has increased manifold with the launch of the Padma Bridge. Bangabandhu Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River has been partially inaugurated. All in all, the country has now created a conducive environment for investment. Also, due to political stability, both domestic and foreign investments are increasing rapidly.
Bangladesh is a small land. But there is a huge population here. The youth is disoriented by the curse of unemployment. Every year, many Bangladeshis are buried in the Mediterranean Sea while migrating to Europe. In the past, many Bangladeshi mass graves were found in the forests of Thailand-Malaysia. Many people are dying in the desert due to human trafficking. The employment situation in Bangladesh is very good now. Many young people are getting employment in new industries and factories. Due to the development of digital education, the number of young people working online is also more than 600,000. It is known that more than one lakh (0.1 million) Bangladeshis will be employed in the Japanese economic zone which was inaugurated on Tuesday. A great momentum has been transmitted in the country’s economy today. This is not always the case in all countries. It is very important today to keep this pace of economic development intact at any cost.
Global economic recession is feared. According to economists, economic recession has already started in many developed countries as well. Inflation has become extreme. Inflation in Bangladesh has also been on the rise since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war and peaked last August. The good news is that inflation has been gradually decreasing for three months. It is expected that it will decrease further in December. In this situation, if there is political unrest, inflation will rise again. People will suffer. Economic development will lose momentum. We hope our politicians must seek the welfare of the country and its people and show mutual tolerance.