Webinar on Trade & Investment Cooperation of Africa and Bangladesh: Towards a new Trajectory

African region is a large continent with an huge investment opportunities despite the trade share of Bangladesh is remarkably very low due to lack of PTA/FTA, tariff and non-tariff barriers and infrastructure speakers told in the webinar on “Trade & Investment Cooperation of Africa and Bangladesh: Towards a new Trajectory” held on the 5th day of Bangladesh Trade & Investment Summit 2021 on October 30, 2021.

DCCI President Rizwan Rahman in his presentation said that the bilateral trade is about USD1.5bn between Bangladesh and Africa having positive trade balance for Bangladesh. Export trade of Bangladesh to Africa accounts for 1.02% of our total export. Though the African investment is declining in Bangladesh, Bangladeshi investment in Africa is on the gradual rise, he added. The African investment in Bangladesh was recorded only USD306 Million. Bangladesh may invest in manufacturing and Agricultural sector of some African countries. Bangladeshi investors can invest in African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and can expand export to the US market for strategic market sustenance.

Chief guest of the webinar M A Mannan, MP, Minister for Planning said that we have opportunity for us as well as win-win chance of trade. Private sector needs to be aggressive to invest both at home and aborad. Food processing and agriculture have good prospects there. We have to grab the market, he added. Bangladeshi entrepreneurs are now entering into the African market and he suggested to invest more in that region.

Special Guest of the webinar A H M Ahsan, Vice Chairman & CEO, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) said African trade with the rest of the world in 2020 was USD888 billion accounting only 3% of total global trade. And in the last year the intra-African trade volume was 133 billion is heavily influenced by African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). Our trade with Africa is significantly low compared to other region. Bangladesh exports to only 5-6 countries of Africa. Their high import tariff is an obstacle to increase export. But service sector is a potential sector for investment, he said.

Md. Tarikul Islam, DG Africa Wing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Africa is resourceful country having enormous potentials. African investment to Bangladesh is not remarkable due to their restrictions over foreign investment. But textiles, pharmaceuticals, footwear, RMG, leather, paper and pulp, ship breaking and agriculture are some of the sectors they can invest. Visa process for African investors will be eased, he informed.

Abdus Samad Al Azad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce said that there is a huge opportunity of outward investment from Africa. We need to work more to sign FTA or PTA with the African countries, he added.

Muhammad Zahangir Alam, Director, Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd. said Africa mosly depends on imported medicines. But in the last 10 years we have seen a very positive growth in Africa. Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies including few others are planning to invest in African and Sub Saharan region. Investment in Africa will increase our confidence on overseas investments as they are very welcoming and positive. He termed it as a new window opening for us.

M Mosaddek Hossain, Managing Director, UniMed UniHealth Pharmaceuticals Ltd. said our pharmaceuticals export is only USD170 million which has a potential to reach up to USD1 billion. Generic pricing of generic pharmaceutical products is a challenge for Bangladesh, he said. There are huge opportunities for making joint ventures with African investors. He also said that in next 10-12 years African economy will be a USD50 billion dollar market.

Published on: 2021-10-30

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