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Chief Representative's Speech

July 12, 2015

Workshop on Investment Climate Improvement in Bangladesh
(12/July/2015 @ Conference Room of the Prime Minister’s Office, Dhaka)

Photo

Honorable Chief Guest, Mr. Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Principal Secretary of Prime Minister's Office,
Honorable Special Guest, Ms. Suraiya Begum, Secretary, Prime Minister's Office,
Ms. Mayumi Murayama, Senior Researcher, Institute of Developing Economics, JETRO,
Honorable members of the Investment Climate Improvement Working Groups,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen.

Assalam alaikum.

Bangladesh, with its emerging domestic market and abundant low priced labors, has created lots of interest among foreign investors including Japanese who view Bangladesh as the potential "new destination" in their "China plus one" strategies. Following this trend, the number of Japanese enterprises in Bangladesh reached 223 in January last becoming three-fold in ten years.

On the other hand, Bangladesh herself needs much more investment from the current 29% of GDP to more than 33% in order to advance toward a higher growth trajectory from the long-standing 6% growth.

JICA has been supporting improvement of investment climate in more than fifteen countries, including Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Pakistan, Morocco and Ghana. In Bangladesh, JICA started the Investment Climate Improvement Project in October, 2012 in cooperation with the Prime Minister's Office to formulate a common platform focusing on the solution of issue-oriented themes such as regulation and legal matters and financial, banking and taxation procedures.

Mr. Maekawa assumed the position of the second JICA Senior Advisor for Investment Climate last February and has been serving as a vehicle of this project. With Mr. Maekawa on board, we started to focus on (1) the solution of investment climate issues which are taken up in the "Joint Japan-Bangladesh Public-Private Economic Dialogue" chaired by Mr. Azad, Principal Secretary of Prime Minister's Office and (2) the creation of "Industrial Growth Core" to attract and motivate investors.

Today, Ms. Murayama's discussion, "Bangladesh as an Industrialized Country," has given significant insights to the project, especially on the idea of "Industrial Growth Core" which can be a clue for Bangladesh to select best suited industries and create sound investment climate for the selected industries.

Ms. Murayama also suggested how it is important to produce opportunities for the selected industries by integrating different segments of issues, such as trade and supply chains, infrastructure, environment, working safety, standard and quality of products and so on.

In this context, our activities on the investment climate have a great potential to initiate such an environment where active discussions among government officials from various ministries and agencies may set a cornerstone to promote promising "Industrial Growth Core" and competitive investment climate in Bangladesh.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The prime ministers of Japan and Bangladesh agreed in Dhaka last September to strengthen the bilateral development partnership through the initiative of "BIG-B," the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt.

BIG-B is an initiative to accelerate industrial agglomeration expecting Bangladesh to take advantage of its linchpin position between South Asia and South-East Asia and play the role of a regional "node and hub." BIG-B is to help Bangladesh reshape herself as a sparkling trading nation deeply incorporated into global value chains.

BIG-B consists of three pillars: 1) Supplying reliable energy and power for industries, 2) Fostering transport connectivity as a regional node and hub and 3) Promoting domestic and foreign direct investment to which the Investment Climate Improvement Project is relevant. To the same effect for the third pillar, incidentally, the Prime Minister's Office, the Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority and JICA have been collaborating to establish Japanese Economic Zones thereby boosting investment from Japan, transfer of technologies, emergence of new industries and generation of employment.

Finally, I hope the 2nd phase of the Investment Climate Improvement Project will help the Government of Bangladesh develop truly enabling environment for business which will attract much more investment in Bangladesh so that Bangladesh can achieve "Vision 2021" and beyond while deepening the relationship with Japan.

Dhonnobad. Thank you.

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