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Saturday, December 22, 2012
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Thai PM upbeat on trade with Dhaka

Hopes business volume to double by 2015; Bangladeshi businessmen seek duty-free access to Thailand

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina receives her Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport yesterday. Photo: PID

Thailand wants to double its two-way trade -- export and import -- with Bangladesh by 2015 in an effort to boost commerce and investment, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said in Dhaka yesterday.

“There's a great potential for further expansion of economic partnership between the two countries…we need closer cooperation between our governments and more importantly between our private sectors,” said Shinawatra.

There are several areas Thailand would be focusing on, she said at a dinner hosted by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry in her honour at Radisson Hotel last night.

Shinawatra arrived in Dhaka around 5:30pm on a two-day official visit.

“First connectivity, both land and sea, especially sea linkage through Myanmar…this route will help boost our economies, reducing transportation cost and saving time,” said the first female premier of Thailand.

She termed Bangladesh's six percent plus GDP growth "quite healthy" and added that Bangladesh had strong potentials for further expansion of trade and business with her country.

“I will discuss about all the issues related to trade and investment with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to strengthen partnership between Bangladesh and Thailand," she told the "Business Networking Dinner".

"We will increase our cooperation with Bangla-deshi government to increase trade and investment."

Shinawatra, who assumed the office of prime minister in July last year, said food industry was another area that deserves attention.

“We will enhance our cooperation in food and agriculture sector -- especially on halal food sector," she said, adding that she had already asked her deputies to explore these areas.

Speaking on the occasion, FBCCI President Kazi Akramuddin Ahmed sought duty-free access for Bangladeshi products to Thailand to help grow the trade volume.

Presently, Bangladesh exporters do not get tariff facilities in Thailand, he said, adding: "As a less developing country and member of the World Trade Organisation, we request your government to provide duty-free access for all Bangladeshi products to the Thai market," said Ahmed.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Commerce Minister GM Quader, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Faruk Khan, FBCCI first Vice-president Monwara Hakim Ali, Vice-president M Helal Uddin, FBCCI directors, diplomats, business leaders and top government officials attended the dinner, among others.

Addressing the programme, Muhith said Bangladesh had many things to learn from Thailand that had had great achievements in various areas.

“We expect much better trade with Thailand…there's a scope for further expansion of trade and investment,” the minister said.

Bangladesh's export to Thailand was worth $51.43 million and import $879.52 million in 2011-2012. “We believe that more trade and investment can reduce the trade gap,” said the FBCCI president.

“We now feel that more than trading, we need strategic partnership not only with Thailand but also with our neighbours like India and Myanmar,” he added.

According to him, it is time to activate and implement the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sector Technical and Economical Cooperation.

“Our cooperation should be widened regionally and bilaterally by establishing land routes to Thailand through Myanmar, exporting manpower, initiating cooperation between ASEAN and Saarc, attracting foreign investment…collaborating in hospital management, building capacity in nurses' training and promoting tourism.”

Ahmed said Bangladeshis spend millions of dollars every year for treatment in Thailand, and invited Thai investors to set up world-class hospitals, diagnostic centres and hotels in Bangladesh.

Earlier in the day, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received Shinawatra at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

She was given a guard of honour there.

The Thai PM is leading a 108-member delegation, including Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and PM's Office Ministers Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan and Sansanee Nakpong.

Shinawatra is scheduled to visit the National Mausoleum in Savar and Bangabandhu Museum at Dhanmondi-32 in the capital today.

Hasina will host a lunch in honour of her Thai counterpart at Sonargaon Hotel.

Shinawatra will also have talks with Opposition Leader and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and Foreign Minister Dipu Moni before leaving for Bangkok around 4:00pm today.

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The initiative from two government could make a new horizons for Bangladeshi people.But Government should need more consciousness for further improvement in future and should establish strengthening foreign policy.

: Md. Bayezid Ali

Thai hospitality is well known as is Thailand's reliance on its tourism industry especially in the aftermath of last Year's devastating floods. So no surprise about Yingluck asking for better connectivity. Bangladesh could ask for Thai investment in Bangladeshi engineering, healthcare and education sector - all three of which Thailand has done very well in lately. Greater connectivity with a more developed country can only benefit Bangladesh - provided it plays it's cards right and is assertive.

: Shabbir A Bashar

Comments

  • Reaz Hassan
    Saturday, December 22, 2012 12:52 AM GMT+06:00 (83 weeks ago)

    There is ample scope to boost our trade and investment with Thailand-a near neighbor of ours. The Eastward Look advocated by BNP during 2001-06 was much appreciated by PM Yingluck's brother Dr Thakshin Shinawatra during his visit to Bangladesh in 2002. Unfortunately, we failed to avail the opportunity then. The business leaders of our country should take a serious look at it. Thanks.

  • Sazzad4eg
    Saturday, December 22, 2012 08:17 AM GMT+06:00 (83 weeks ago)

    We are very much optimistic nation. Hope this will bring some changes. Thai premier should cooperate us in various sectors.

  • dr karim
    Saturday, December 22, 2012 08:53 AM GMT+06:00 (83 weeks ago)

    We have similarities and dissimilarities with Thailand. They have got also corruption, we had ten times more than them. They give more importance to nationalism, we give least if you go their airport mostly their language ,Bangladesh Biman opposite. They were backward from us in economy but now much ahead.


 

 


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