New Age Bangladesh - 16 March 2022
Dhaka, Tokyo look for free trade agreement
Bangladesh and Japan would explore scopes for signing a free trade agreement for boosting bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation.
Planning minister MA Mannan told a dialogue on Wednesday that Japan would be a strong contender for signing a free trade agreement with Bangladesh and the bilateral trade relations would be smoother if the agreement is signed.
‘Based on the experiences of the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Japan over the past 50 years, we’re looking forward to the next 50 years which is going to be much better, stronger and warm,’ he said at the dialogue on Bangladesh-Japan partnership organized by Centre for Policy Dialogue organised the event.
Japanese ambassador to Dhaka ITO Naoki said that Tokyo was considering a joint study on framing the FTA with Bangladesh.
‘If we can start the process and frame it, this will help boost our economic partnership...but this has to be reciprocal,’ he added.
Naoki noted that there was a need to focus to train the Bangladeshi workforce for catering the needs of Japanese market.
The Japanese ambassador also emphasised on maintaining stability in Asia saying, ‘Changing status quo by unilateral steps is undesirable in our region.’
Change of status quo by force in Ukraine has shaken very fundamentals of peace, security and sovereignty of the countries, he said.
JICA chief representative Yuho Hayakawa suggested that Bangladesh should focus on accelerating inclusive growth, overcoming social vulnerabilities and building comprehensive cooperation.
Economist Rehman Sobhan expressed hope that Japan would stand beside Bangladesh in the energy sector and in addressing climate change issues.
Japan-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Asif A Chowdhury said that Bangladesh should sign free trade agreements with as many countries as possible, including Japan, keeping the LDC graduation in mind.
Japan disbursed $1.95 billion in 2021 as aid to Bangladesh, the highest in the past 50 years, according to official data.
Member of parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs Kazi Nabil Ahmed, former foreign secretary Faruk Sobhan, Bangladesh ambassador to Japan Shahabuddin Ahmed, Japanese professors Tatsufumi Yamagata and Kenta Goto, and CPD research director Khandaker Golam Moazzem, among others participated in the discussion.
CPD research fellow Syed Yusuf Sadaat and Kathy Matsui of Asian University of Women made presentations in the event.