Exports to Japan will hit $2b by 2018.
Bangladesh is looking to export $2 billion worth of products to Japan over the next three years, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday.
Last fiscal year, the country received $915.22 million for its exports to Japan.
It is possible to reach the target as the demand for Bangladeshi products, especially garment and leather, is higher in Japan, Ahmed told reporters after a meeting with the newly-appointed ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, Masato Watanabe, at the secretariat.
Exports to Japan have been on the rise due to the relaxation of Rules of Origin (RoO) for products originating from least-developed countries, the minister said.
As a result, all Bangladeshi exports to Japan, save for hand gloves and arms, enjoy duty-free benefits.
In fiscal 2014-15, garment exports to Japan rose 14.02 percent year-on-year to $652.55 million, partly due to relaxed RoO for Bangladeshi knitwear from April this year.
Japan's annual garment sales are about $40 billion, most of which are from China. The RoO are a set of conditions that determine the source of a product and are important in determination of duties.
Exports will increase further if the Japanese investors set up the factories in the proposed special economic zone for them and ship the products to their country, Ahmed said. The Bangladesh government has agreed to give an SEZ to Japanese investors in Chittagong after many of them expressed interest in shifting their companies from other countries.
Japan has already promised to give $6 billion in aid for implementing the Matarbari power project in Cox's Bazar district, according to Ahmed. Watanabe said both Bangladesh and Japan have been working to establish the SEZ for Japanese investors. Many Japanese companies are waiting to invest in Bangladesh, he said.
The location of Bangladesh is in a very strategic position, he said, adding that the country has the potential to be the hub for Asean (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and South Asia as a result.
“Bangladesh needs strong infrastructure, transportation, power and educated manpower to attract more and more investment from abroad. This is my expectation.”
The year 2014 was important for Bangladesh and Japan as both the prime ministers paid a visit to each other's countries, he said. In 2008, Japan introduced a 'China Plus One' policy to reduce its dependence on China and encourage its retailers to look for other suppliers such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia.
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