The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) president Sheikh Fazle Fahim on Monday said bilateral trade between Bangladesh & India was $9.5 billion in FY2017-18 with exports to India pegged at $0.87 billion and imports, at $8.6 billion. He further added that bilateral trade between the two countries can increase through investments in green field projects as well as mergers and acquisitions, he said on the sidelines of a two-day B2B trade summit being held in Kolkata. Excerpts:

What are your views on the existing business relationship between India & Bangladesh?
Our long proven relations with India have been marked by humanity, heritage, dynamic partnership and exchange at the highest level. Complimenting the G2G initiatives, the two nations offer untapped potential to maximise on bilateral synergy. As a strategic partner and major source of FDI, India has been financing many of our development projects in power, railways, road and transport, health and technical education in addition to investments in textiles, banking and telecommunications. Bangladesh has a competitive edge in production cost including labour, flexible FDI incentives and duty free quota free market access to most advance economies.

What benefits would accrue to the two countries following the summit with Confederation of West Bengal Trade Associations (CWBTA)?
It is part of FBCCI’s policy to maintain business relationship with neighbouring nations, especially with India’s trade bodies in different states. CWBTA’s member pool of Trade Associations of West Bengal is a strong network of more than 1 million traders. CWBTA network are part of potential value chain for buy back from Bangladesh as well as exports to SAARC, BBIN, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and additional markets.

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What are the existing opportunities which can take the trade relationship between India and Bangladesh to a new height?
As our economy is in a transition stage, it is imperative that our bilateral ties reflect the potential opportunities we have in areas such as joint high tech research, development and innovation incubators, JVs on light, medium and heavy industries, knowledge transfer to transition from 3rd IR to 4th IR including service sector cooperation in ICT, nanotechnology, robotics, IOT, cyber security, AI, quantum computing, quantum internet among others.

In addition, knowledge transfer for trade, investment & revenue regulatory framework, policy planning, business process re-engineering of MSMEs, joint exploration and joint ventures on blue economy, knowledge transfer for industry academia HR skill gap are some of the other areas of cooperation between the two nations.

What, according to you, is the role of FBCCI in ease of doing business in Bangladesh?
To improve ‘ease of doing business’, we are closely working with Prime Minister’s office, relevant ministries, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority and other stakeholders to facilitate ease and cost of doing business. These reforms are being overseen by PM H.E Sheikh Hasina herself. We will see significant update on the index this year and a more substantial one in 2020.

This apart, FBCCI Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre facilitates commercial ADR for both (domestic and international) enterprises with a vision to create a trade facilitation eco-system. On the other hand, FBCCI Economic Policy Research (EPR) Center started operation from June 2019 for policy planning, regulatory impact assessment and economic variable indexes.

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Can you name some of the high potential and sunrise sectors in the economy of Bangladesh, where the business growth is ensured?
Our competitive strengths in leather goods, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, frozen seafood, ceramics, jute products, ICT, FMCG, home appliance, agro processing, fisheries and others are leading the way for business diversification. Keeping in mind the production competitive advantages, population density with increasing purchasing power and markets access, agro, manufacturing, service and quaternary sector of our economy have potential. Through technology & knowledge transfers and JVs, we can tap into regional and global value chain and market access.





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