The merchant community of Hijaz and other Arab areas used to visit Chittagong Port in Bangladesh in the past for promoting trade, said Mahbubul Alam, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Alam is in the Kingdom leading a business delegation of Bangladesh to explore business possibilities between traders of the Western Province in general and Makkah and Jeddah in particular.
After meeting the business community at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) on Monday, Alam urged them to invest in the port city of Chittagong. He said Arab traders regularly visited Chittagong port since the early days of Islam. “Now is the time to enhance these ties as well as explore possibilities of further expanding them to newer areas like trade, business and investment, either individually or in collaboration,” he said.
Alam added that “Bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia is deeply rooted.”
He stated that Chittagong is the most ideal trade and investment center of the country and poised to emerge as the transnational business hub and investment destination in the region. He urged Saudi businessmen to invest in Bangladesh, particularly in Chittagong.
He suggested shipbuilding, oil refinery, leather, ceramic and pharmaceutical among the most attractive sectors for investment.
Mohammed Nazmul Islam, consul general of Bangladesh, said: “Bangladesh is a country of opportunities. As a signatory of WTO, it has deregulated and liberalized its trade and investment regime to create an enabling business environment for both national and overseas entrepreneurs.”
He added that the country is pursuing a private sector-led export-oriented growth strategy and has formulated a very alluring policy and stimulus package program to this effect. The attractive incentive offered by Bangladesh for foreign investors include 100 percent foreign equity, tax holiday for 10 years and reduced income tax in lieu of tax holiday, unrestricted repatriation of invested capital, profit and dividend, legal protection of investment by the government, duty free import of raw material and capital machinery, accelerated depreciation facility, avoidance of double taxation, allowing sale of shares through public offering and raising of capital. All these facilities are considered distinctively better in this region.
Bangladesh enjoys duty and quota free market access to EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway and New Zealand and preferential market access from many other developed and developing countries.
M. Mizanur Rahman, economic counselor at the Bangladesh Embassy in Riyadh, said Bangladesh had an excellent strategic location. It is at the bridgehead point of the world’s two most vibrant and burgeoning economic blocks — SAARC and ASEAN — that constitute more than one third population of the globe. By all modes of transportation like air, road, rail and sea, these two blocks can be connected at the shortest time and distance from Bangladesh.
Besides this, Bangladesh has the world’s competitive but most intelligent, loyal and hardworking labor force, suitable for both manufacturing and service industries.
He told Arab News that last year the country’s exports to the Kingdom totaled $214 million, mainly garments and frozen food.
Mazen Batterjee, vice chairman of JCCI welcomed the visiting delegation and said that the chamber would consider sending a business delegation to Chittagong to expand and further explore bilateral trade and investment.