The Financial Express

CanCham for deals to ensure duty benefits in Canada for exporters

| Updated: December 01, 2022 08:54:03

CanCham for deals to ensure duty benefits in Canada for exporters

Canada Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CanCham Bangladesh) has requested the government to sign bilateral agreements with Canada, in order to facilitate continuation of duty benefits there for Bangladeshi exporters and protect Canadian investment here.

CanCham Bangladesh stressed that the government should sign a free trade agreement with Canada and another separate agreement to protect foreign direct investment here in Bangladesh.

It also sought a plot of 100 acres of land in Bangabandhu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for establishing the Canadian Industrial Zone.

The trade body's President Masud Rahman made the demands at a dinner programme organised to celebrate '50 Years of Bilateral Relations' between Canada and Bangladesh, at a city hotel on Sunday.

The main objectives of the event were to promote and further strengthen bilateral relations between the two friendly nations.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen attended the event as the chief guest, while Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Lilly Nicholls and FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin were present as special guests.

Khalilur Rahman, Bangladesh high commissioner to Canada, also spoke virtually.

In his speech, Masud Rahman said, "In 2019, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Bangladesh reached US$3.61 billion. FDI inflows to Bangladesh rose by 37 per cent year-on-year to US$3.43 billion in 2021-2022."

Canada granted duty-free market access to Bangladesh in 2003 and since then the two-way trade has started growing rapidly and tripled from CAD $600.0 million to CAD $2.40billion.

Bangladesh exported goods worth CAD $1.7 billion to Canada in 2018, said Mr Rahman.

Bangladesh is situated at a geographically advantageous position in close proximity to India and China, both key commercial partners for Canada.

"All these have made Bangladesh a very prospective destination of FDI, especially for Canada which has been looking for a profitable and secure investment hub for possible relocation…," Mr Rahman said.

He also stressed the need for exploring all the potential provinces of Canada to brand Bangladesh, in a bid to create new business opportunities, for example, branding Bangla cuisine, snacks and sweets.

The CanCham Bangladesh president also recommended prioritising exports of IT and ITES, footwear and leather products, pharmaceuticals, light engineering goods, sustainable plastic products and jute goods from Bangladesh.

Speaking on the occasion, FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin said the apex trade body is playing a critical role under a joint working group for improving the bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.

There is an immense opportunity for business between the countries in a number of sectors apart from RMG, for instance, leather, agro foods and the blue economy, he said.

The FBCCI is going to celebrate the golden jubilee of the apex trade body on March 11-13 next year.

He said they have written to the director general of the World Trade Organisation, United States Trade Representative (USTR), and trade commissioner of the European Commission and expect their participation in the three-day mega event to be held in Dhaka.

Lilly Nicholls, high commissioner of Canada in Bangladesh, said this is a very special time for both Canada and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is a key part of Canada's Indo Pacific strategy, she said.

Speaking there, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said Canada is a great friend of Bangladesh as the former supplied a lot of wheat in the early time of independence.

Bangladesh needs the Canadian general trade preference facility even after the graduation to a developing country from the least developed country (LDC) status in 2026, he said.

He also sought cooperation from Canada to put pressure on Myanmar for taking back around 1.1 million displaced Rohingyas currently staying in Bangladesh.

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