Japan-Bangladesh economic relations
Japan and Bangladesh are Asian countries whose relations are friendly, last longing, trusted and they are reliable development partners. To maximize the benefits in terms of faster economic growth and poverty reduction, Japan and Bangladesh will need to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation in several areas, particularly in trade and businesses. The bilateral economic and trade relations between Japan and Bangladesh are old enough and they have strong historical and cultural relation -- the share many similar facts. Japan and Bangladesh are two faithful, helpful and beneficial countries and this relationship has contributed in socio-economic development, culture, education, infrastructure, knowhow transfer, trade, migration, human resource exchange, capacity building of the institutions and in many areas.
Japan always fulfils her economic interest in Bangladesh through investment. As a developing country, Bangladesh welcomes the flow of foreign investment in the country hoping for the introduction of new technology to help improve the job market and the economic growth. Japan is one of the largest investors and donors in Bangladesh. In 1961, Japan, for the first time, invested in Bangladesh; a joint venture textile mills. The number Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh has grown more than triple time since 2008 reaching 253 as May, 2017 according to JETRO.
According to board of investment sources, up to June, 2017 Japanese companies registered with BIDA of invest more than 2003.53 Million USD. Japanese investment in Bangladesh ranks 4th among the foreign investing countries after the USA, UK and Malaysia. Japan is one of major sources of Foreign Direct Investment in Bangladesh and also a significant source of development aid to Bangladesh.
At present, more than two hundred projects with Japanese investment or joint venture operating in Bangladesh. It is known that Bangladesh, geo-strategically located at the junction of East Asia and South Asia, may emerge as the most important hub apart from India for Japan. From that point of view, transport network improvement, stable power supply, urban development, blue economy development, economic zone development, and private sector development such as financial accessibility promotion are the areas where Japan wishes to cooperate under its BIG-B initiative. Since its independence in 1971, Bangladesh has consistently maintained good relations with Japan and the people of Bangladesh have a strong affinity towards Japan.
Japan is one of the important trading partners of Bangladesh. Bangladesh exports agro products, readymade garments, woollen goods, carpets, handicrafts, paper and paper products, leather goods, and silverware and ornaments. Bangladesh's imports from Japan include vehicles and spare parts, electronic goods, machinery and equipment, iron and steel products, photographic goods, medical equipment fabric and industrial raw materials.
There is an ample scope of collaborating in trade sector by introducing Japanese production process or integrating product development by exporting raw materials in Japan. Japan has been one of major destinations for Bangladeshi goods. In recent years, shoes, prawns, garments and leather goods are major export products to Japan. Bangladesh is trying to diversify export and develop more export oriented industries. These very constructive measures will improve the existing situation and open up a new window of opportunities for trade and investment between two preferential countries.
Japan strongly supports that Bangladesh, in her development process, should make further headway in poverty reduction with a view to attaining the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and for that purpose Bangladesh must expand and stabilize its basis of growth driven by the private sector, expand social development, and improve governance. In particular, Japan upholds that, it is necessary to provide cooperation bearing in mind the perspective of human security while promoting social development.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Japan and Bangladesh, Japan has been extending its aid assistance to Bangladesh. Japanese overseas development assistance (ODA) for Bangladesh has been focused less conditional, favourable to the development and realization of her aim for self-reliance and poverty alleviation and development of infrastructure.
Japanese technical assistance and cooperation to Bangladesh is also appreciable. JICA has extended its technical cooperation through funding and implementing Technical Cooperation Projects in Bangladesh in the prime sectors of education, health, environment, disaster management, agriculture and rural development, power, transport and also in private sector over the last five decades.
Japan continues to be our foremost friend in our social, economic and political fields. Whatever infrastructure Bangladesh has today, a great many are due to successive Japanese government's goodwill and initiatives. In the field of industries, Japan has set a unique example in the world by supporting their Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to grow and prosper as feeder to its big Multi-national Companies (MNCs).
Thus, both SMEs and MNCs grew up side by side with a unique culture of blending and harmonization. The government's various policies remain consistent and always supportive to their cause. There are short-term, mid-term, and long-term plans for every national policy they embark upon. This is why Japan is regarded as a disciplined state. Therefore, here is a lesson for Bangladesh to learn, adopt and implement.
As a citizen the Japanese have some special qualities; they are extremely hardworking, meticulous, and thoughtful in their deeds. They are very time-conscious and believe in themselves first before they believe others. As rice-eating nations, there are many other things in common between our two countries. The Japanese love our handicrafts and value our family traditions. They admire our simplicity of life and praise us for our resilience in facing natural disasters and calamities.
Every change begins with a vision and a decision to take action. Often an important social or managerial change begins with a single entrepreneurial change. For an example: Bangladesh Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Partnerships -- Human Resources and Industry Development Association (AOTS- HIDA) Alumni Society, Japan based organization which is involved in human resources development activities has changed the career of thousands of Bangladeshi people by providing them with professional worthy and, skill development in the different sectors.
Bangladesh is a country with rich historical heritage, various cultural traditions and great natural beauties to be proud of and a potential for greater economic development. The country is blessed with people with diligence and resilience, business leaders with great entrepreneurship, and an elite class with highest intellectual capacity, and it can take advantage of its geographical position to ensure economic gains .An important characteristic of Bangladesh's relationship with Japan is the way in which the diversification of bilateral economic relationship has been grown. With the passing of time, the solid foundation of friendship and cooperation built during the last fifty years will be further strengthening in future for mutual benefits.
The writer is a Deputy General Manager of Bangladesh Krishi Bank, a Member of Association for Overseas Technical Cooperation and Sustainable (AOTS) Partnerships and Human Resources and Industry Development Association (HIDA). He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org