Bangladeshi investors should eye untapped Africa: Experts
Speakers at a webinar on Saturday said Bangladeshi entrepreneurs can invest in manufacturing and agricultural sectors of some African countries under African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to expand export to the US market.
They said Africa is a big continent with huge investment opportunities even though the trade share of Bangladesh is remarkably very low for lack of PTA/FTA, tariff and non-tariff barriers and infrastructure.
The speakers came up with the remarks in the webinar titled “Trade & Investment Cooperation of Africa and Bangladesh: Towards a new Trajectory” held on the fifth day of Bangladesh Trade and Investment Summit 2021.
“Private sector needs to be aggressive to invest both at home and abroad. Food processing and agriculture have good prospects there. We’ve to grab the market,“ Planning Minister MA Mannan told the webinar.
As Bangladeshi entrepreneurs entered the African market, he suggested that they can invest more in that region with a plan.
DCCI President Rizwan Rahman in his presentation said the bilateral trade is about $1.5 billion between Bangladesh and Africa having a positive trade balance for Bangladesh. “Our export to Africa accounts for 1.02 per cent of Bangladesh’s our total export.”
Though 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 $306 million.
AHM Ahsan, Vice Chairman and CEO, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), said African trade with the rest of the world in 2020 was $888 billion accounting for only 3 per cent of total global trade.
Last year, the intra-African trade volume of $133 billion was heavily influenced by African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), he said.
“Our trade with Africa is significantly low compared to other regions. Bangladesh exports to only 5-6 countries of Africa. Their high import tariff is an obstacle to export increase. But the service sector is a potential sector for investment,” he added.
Md Tarikul Islam, DG Africa Wing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Africa is a resourceful country having enormous potentials.
“African investment in 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 in. The visa process for African investors will be eased,” he said.
Abdus Samad Al Azad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Muhammad Zahangir Alam, Director, Square Pharmaceuticals and M Mosaddek Hossain, Managing Director, UniMed UniHealth Pharmaceuticals, among others, spoke at the webinar.