By Pathik Hasan
The newly appointed Thai Ambassador to Bangladesh, Makawadee Sumitmore, called for Free Trade Agreement (FTA)between Bangladesh and Thailand to create more business opportunities between the two countries during a courtesy call of the Board of Directors of the Bangladesh Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BTCCI).
The Bilateral chamber also placed some proposals for enhancing the bilateral trade and investment relationship between Bangladesh and Thailand on Sunday at the Royal Thai Embassy, Dhaka.
BTCCI placed some important issues before the new Thai Envoy, such as, to make easier business policy between the business community; to work jointly for Thai Special Economic Zone in Bangladesh; to include more duty-free Bangladeshi products; relocating labour-intensive industry in Bangladesh like Woven Textile Industry and some other potential industries like – power and energy; light engineering; electric, food, handicrafts, and other effective bilateral activities.
The New Thai Envoy assured the business leaders to work on all the proposals of BTCCI and also to try to augment business between the two countries.
The Thai Ambassador thanked the board of directors for coming forward for the discussion and emphasised the ways and means to promote bilateral trade and investment. She talked about making a free trade agreement, the development of ports on Thailand’s Andaman coast to shorten the sea transport route to Bangladesh, and the possibility of co-organising events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year.
She also said,” As Bangladesh and Thailand are tested friends with ethnic historical and cultural ties, there are huge opportunities to do good business between these two ASEAN Countries.”
Mohammad Shahjahan Khan, president of BTCCI, said, “We have lots of scope for cooperation to work jointly in some important sectors like Pharmaceuticals, Jute and Jute goods, Leather, tourism and hospitality, infrastructure, Agro-processing, RMG, etc. As we have a huge trade gap between our countries, we should make joint efforts to minimize the trade gap.”
BTCCI President also emphasised the increasing export from Bangladesh to Thailand and requested Thai officials to initiate adding new products to imports from Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh has huge potential for investment in different sectors. The three Thai big companies – Ital-Thai, CP Bangladesh, and Siam City Cement are good examples of the lucrative investment environment.”
He also requested the ambassador to work on easy sea connectivity from Thailand to Bangladesh. Due to the pandemic situation, both countries are struggling to recover their economy. Bangladesh government announced a stimulus package totaling Tk1.31 trillion in different business sectors to recover the businesses in the country, and Thailand is taking some initiatives to face this business disorder.
New Thai Envoy Makawadee Sumitmoresaid,”The investment of some big Thai companies in Bangladesh is the proof of Thailand’s interest in considering Bangladesh as an investment destination.”
She is very much interested to work jointly with BTCCI in its activities. The Ambassador expressed, “Apart from trading only, now countries should try to establish strategic partnerships. I realised the problems of connectivity and would try to work on this.”
FBCCI Vice President and BTCCI Former President, M A Momen, who was present in the meeting and stressed upon more cooperation between the two business communities and to do more studies for joint ventures.
He said, “Thailand needs to import more products from other countries and Bangladesh can be one of its important sourcing countries. Bangladesh provides a low-cost production base and competitive labour market for Thai Businessmen and therefore Bangladesh can become their investment destination.”
Engineer Rashed Maksud Khan, founder president of BTCCI and former president of DCCI, attended the meeting and he emphasised strengthening the already established good relationship between Bangladesh and Thailand.
Some of the BTCCI board of directors also attended the courtesy call including Khemathat Archwathamrong, minister counsellor (commercial) and BTCCI Honorary Director; Directors, Shamima Rahman, M Salem Sulaiman, Hossain A Shikder, Kiatkati Chaopanknam, MdJ UnaedIbne Ali, Md Ahsanuzzaman, Zubair Hassan Chowdhury, Brahmanda Pratap Barua; and Md Nazmul Hossen, secretary of BTCCI. (UNB)
*Pathik Hasan, Dhaka based NGO activist and Writer on contemporary international issues.