A group of UAE business firms' intention to set up five economic zones in the country augurs well for the investment portfolio scenario in the country. The good news, carried by this paper on Monday, was broken at the second edition of the Bangladesh Economic Forum at Dubai last Sunday. It was attended by a 20-member delegation from the country headed by Prime Minister's Adviser on Private Industry and Investment Mr Salman F Rahman. The Bangladesh Adviser met a whole range of UAE-based investors, government officials and representatives of foreign entities numbering about three hundred in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)'s hub of Dubai. Request was made to all to take advantage of our low production cost. The other part of the good news is that the proposed new projects and economic zones are in addition to the ten-billion-dollar worth of investment that the UAE already has in this country.
The UAE with its seven Emirates are at the heart of the GCC's continually expanding position in terms of trade and energy resources. After a hiatus on labour recruitment from Bangladesh for a couple of years, the doors have been opened for the country. The 700,000-strong Bangladeshi work force contributes to the second largest inflow of foreign remittances to Bangladesh. Our bilateral trade with the UAE is also moving towards a better direction. The proportion of Bangladesh's import from and that of export to the UAE over the last decade and half has been in the Gulf country's favour. However, trade is one area where Bangladesh's burgeoning domestic sectors and industries can hook on to the energy-rich country's wealth and surging demand. Even though it has seen a continuous balance in favour of the Gulf country in the past, this can be narrowed down to some extent by the ever-increasing size of the Bangladesh economy. Ten products including knitwear, home textiles, woven garments, leather goods, ceramics, jute and plastic goods among others have been identified for export to the UAE. Efforts are underway to raise the size of bilateral trade from the current USD 1.13 billion to USD 10 billion by the year 2030.
Next year is when Dubai will organise the World Expo 2020. This will be a great occasion to showcase Bangladeshi products including our investment opportunities to an international audience on a long-term basis. Already in the list of 133 countries that have announced participation, this six-month event should be a vital opening for Bangladeshi exporters and investment-drawing agencies. Surely, efforts will be made by the government and the business community of Bangladesh to seize the opportunity. The investment call that the PM's adviser has made to the business community in the UAE can be further expanded in that world event. What's needed most from the UAE is that it remains a favourable place for Bangladeshi traders, entrepreneurs, visitors and above all workers. However, much will depend on how good we are at home, in producing the best merchandise, in training workers with necessary skills and expertise for their acceptance at home and abroad and in creating a business-friendly atmosphere so that investment can be drawn in. We wish the UAE-based business groups' desire to create five economic zones in the country success and hope that the venture will create job opportunities in Bangladesh and expand its export portfolio.