Opportunities are opening up for Bangladesh and Thailand to further expand mutual cooperation through the signing of MoU for direct coastal shipping between Chittagong port of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal and Ranong Port of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Thailand is an advanced developing economy, and is recognised globally as a hub of the Asia-Pacific region due to its impressive creation, innovation and development of versatile products. Being strategic partners in the region, Bangladesh and Thailand can cooperate with each other both bilaterally and multilaterally. With a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy, pro-investment policies and strong export industries, Thailand achieved steady growth due largely to industrial and agriculture exports.
Nowadays, due to the increasing labour cost in Thailand, the country is trying to relocate labour intensive industries like jute, textiles, food processing, automobiles, light engineering, leather, etc. These are the potential areas where Bangladeshi entrepreneurs can tie up with Thai entrepreneurs in joint venture collaboration in Bangladesh. Given the present state of bilateral trade, there is ample opportunity for our exporters to explore the Thai market. Thai people are comfortable with Bangladeshi products such as jute goods, pharmaceuticals, leather, frozen food, etc. At the same time government level efforts must be on to facilitate market access through reduced or duty-free export of some of our prospective items. Both Bangladesh and Thailand acknowledge the important role of BIMSTEC in strengthening closer cooperation in South and South-East Asia. Apart from working together in the UN, NAM, BIMSTEC, ACD, Bangladesh is now set to work side by side with Thailand as a participant of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and as a new member of Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Both countries' cooperation should be widened regionally and bilaterally by establishing land route to Thailand through Myanmar, exporting manpower, initiating cooperation between ASEAN and SAARC.
Thailand has shown its intention to expand investment in Bangladesh, particularly in infrastructure development, food processing and electrical and power generation. Bangladesh is pleased with the news and agreed to support Thai investors on the development and establishment of an industrial estate in Bangladesh's special economic zone.
Benefits of investing in Bangladesh
Low cost efficient workforce: Bangladesh offers a well-educated, highly adaptive and industrious workforce with the lowest wages and salaries in the region. About 70% of the population is under the age of 30, a positive aspect in recruitment.
Tactical location and connectivity: Bangladesh is strategically located with sea routes to almost all countries of the region.
Strong local market and growth: Bangladesh has proved to be an attractive investment location with its 157.9 million population and consistent economic growth leading to strong and growing domestic demand and GDP growth at 6% for over five years.
Competitive incentives and foreign remittance: Bangladesh offers the most liberal FDI regime in South Asia, allowing 100% foreign equity with unrestricted exit policy, easy remittance of royalty, and repatriation of profits and incomes. In the just concluded fiscal year, migrant workers sent home US$ 15.31 billion in remittance, the highest in the country's history.
Export processing zones: Bangladesh offers export-oriented industrial enclaves with infrastructural facilities and logistical support for foreign investors. The country is also developing its core infrastructure, including roads, highways, surface transport and port facilities for a better business environment.
Special economic zone:Bangladesh has enacted a law on SEZ which facilitates both local and foreign investors to invest in the country by exploiting all necessary incentives allowed for investment. A special Thai SEZ can be established in Bangladesh. The joint statement signed by the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Thailand on December 22, 2012 could work as the main stepping stone for the two countries to move further. Two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed to expand bilateral cooperation in agriculture and hold regular consultation to strengthen business between the two countries. Bangladesh-Thai Chamber of Commerce, as a facilitating organisation of private sector in the country, is trying to play its due role in exploring new areas of bilateral cooperation