Thailand’s new Ambassador to Bangladesh Makawadee Sumitmore called for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Bangladesh and Thailand to create more trade opportunities between the two countries during a courtesy visit from the council of administration of the Thai Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (BTCCI).
The bilateral chamber also presented proposals to the Royal Thai Embassy in Dhaka on Sunday to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relations between Bangladesh and Thailand.
The BTCCI brought some important issues to the new Thai Envoy, such as facilitating trade policy among the business community; work jointly for the Thai Special Economic Zone in Bangladesh; include more Bangladeshi duty free products; relocation of labor-intensive industries to Bangladesh like the woven textile industry and other potential industries like – electricity and energy; light engineering; electric, food, crafts and other effective bilateral activities.
The new Thai envoy assured business leaders to work on all BTCCI’s proposals and also to try to increase business between the two countries.
The Thai Ambassador thanked the Board for taking part in the discussion and highlighted ways and means to promote bilateral trade and investment. She discussed the conclusion of a free trade agreement, the development of ports on the Thai coast of Andaman to shorten the maritime transport route to Bangladesh and the possibility of co-organizing events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations next year.
She also said: “As Bangladesh and Thailand are long-standing friends with historical ethnic and cultural ties, there are huge opportunities to do good business between these two ASEAN countries. “
Mohammad Shahjahan Khan, Chairman of BTCCI, said: “We have many possibilities for cooperation to work together in some important sectors such as pharmaceuticals, jute and jute goods, leather, tourism and hospitality, infrastructure, agrifood, RMG, etc. we have a huge trade gap between our countries, we need to make joint efforts to minimize the trade gap. “
The BTCCI chairman also highlighted the increase in exports from Bangladesh to Thailand and asked the Thai authorities to initiate the addition of new products to imports from Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh has enormous investment potential in different sectors. The big three Thai companies – Ital-Thai, CP Bangladesh and Siam City Cement are good examples of the lucrative investment environment. “
He also asked the Ambassador to work on easy maritime connectivity from Thailand to Bangladesh. Due to the pandemic situation, both countries are struggling to revive their economies. The government of Bangladesh has announced a stimulus package totaling Tk 1.3 trillion in various industries to revive the country’s businesses, and Thailand is taking initiatives to deal with this trade mess.
New Thai envoy Makawadee Sumitmore said, “The investment of some large Thai companies in Bangladesh is proof of Thailand’s interest in seeing Bangladesh as an investment destination.”
She is very interested in working jointly with BTCCI in its activities. The ambassador said: “In addition to trade only, countries should now try to establish strategic partnerships. I realized the connectivity issues and would try to work on them.
Vice Chairman of FBCCI and Former Chairman of BTCCI, MA Momen, who was present at the meeting and insisted on greater cooperation between the two business communities and doing more studies for joint ventures.
He said, “Thailand needs to import more products from other countries and Bangladesh can be one of its main sourcing countries. Bangladesh provides a low cost production base and competitive labor market for Thai businessmen and hence Bangladesh can become their investment destination.
Engineer Rashed Maksud Khan, Founding Chairman of BTCCI and Former Chairman of DCCI, attended the meeting and highlighted the strengthening of the good relations already established between Bangladesh and Thailand.
Some BTCCI board members also attended the courtesy visit, including Khemathat Archwathamrong, Minister Counselor (Commercial) and Honorary Director of BTCCI; 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 the BTCCI. (A B)
*Pathik Hassan, Dhaka-based NGO activist and writer on contemporary international issues.