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UK keen to invest in special economic zones

The Bangladesh government has taken initiatives to establish 100 SEZs to draw foreign and local investments. It also offers SEZs to every individual country to boost foreign direct investment (FDI).Last year Bangladesh witnessed a total of $2.23bn FDI inflow in different sectors.The DFID director talked about the offer at a meeting with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at his office in Dhaka yesterday. British High Commissioner in Dhaka Alison Blake was present at the meeting along with other visiting delegates.“I came from London to learn about the Bangladesh-UK trade partnership and about the work we are doing together as a whole range from SEZ to improve investment climate to attract investment,” said Kennedy.Kennedy congratulated Bangladesh on wining the recently held Test Cricket Match against the England team. The United Kingdom is strengthening trade relationship with its key partners in the world, and Bangladesh is a key business partner, he added.“My advice to the honourable minister would be to develop a portfolio of industries that grows very fast and has a very positive future. Some 100 Special Economic Zones are the key to attract investment.”One of the great success stories for Bangladesh is the growth of RMG industry, which created many jobs and lifted many people out of poverty, Kennedy said, adding that other countries have to flow Bangladesh’s story.“The UK has shown keen interest in investing in SEZs. So, we want to offer one of SEZs for its investors,” said Tofail Ahmed.He said the UK is willing to make investment in RMG, agriculture, ICT and pharmaceuticals.Currently, there are about 200 British companies doing business in Bangladesh.The meeting also focused on issues pertinent to trade facilities after the Brexit as Bangladesh currently enjoys duty-free market access to the UK market under Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) as a member of European Union.“Britain has still strong trade relationship with Bangladesh and we want to make it stronger after the Brexit,” according to Kennedy.Commerce minister said UK brands like Tesco, H&M, Marks and Spencer purchase garment products from Bangladesh on the basis of trade relationship, which is a positive message.“Since the UK is a trusted trade partner of Bangladesh and also a close friend since the independence, I hope the trade benefits would remain unchanged even after the Brexit,” said Tofail.According to Bangladesh Bank data, in the last fiscal year, bilateral trade of Bangladesh and UK stood at $4.09bn. Bangladesh’s export to the UK is $3.80bn while imports from there is $276m.