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Bangladesh and Japan to enter into an Economic Partnership Agreement by 2025

By Ryan Cardenas
-    Jan 11, 2024
Credit : GMI Post

Bilateral trade and investment between Japan and Bangladesh are expected to grow exponentially as the two countries move closer to finalizing their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

In a joint press conference held by Japanese and Bangladeshi officials last December 27, 2023, Bangladesh Senior Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh expressed his optimism, saying that his country would yield significant benefits once the proposed EPA is signed.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are optimistic that a planned economic partnership agreement will herald a new phase in their bilateral relations.

“I am optimistic that the economic partnership agreement between the two countries will be signed either by December 2025 or January 2026. Once the EPA with Japan is signed, we’ll not only get duty-free market facilities but also get more investments and infrastructures suitable for industries and thus could join the global supply chain,” said Ghosh.

Considered a long-time and significant economic partner for Bangladesh, Japan has provided $24.72 billion in financial assistance since 1972 through its Official Development Assistance (ODA), almost evenly split between grants and loans. According to a news report by The Diplomat, this makes Japan Bangladesh’s single largest bilateral donor

In recent years, the number of Japanese companies investing in Bangladesh has also seen a massive spike as it has quadrupled over the past decade. In 2022, Bangladesh received over $100 million in foreign direct investments from Japan, a record high according to Ghosh.

Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Iwama Kiminori said the proposed EPA will facilitate development on both sides as Japan sees Bangladesh as a crucial economic partner.

According to a 2023 report by East Asia Forum, Bangladesh’s (1) fast-growing economy, (2) trade-friendly policies, (3) growing middle-class population with high purchasing power, and (4) strategic location because of its direct access to the Indian ocean where almost 80% of Japan’s maritime trade passes through make it one of the most potentially lucrative markets in this region.

Asia News Network reports there are around 350 Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh today, 85% of which are in favor of the Japan-Bangladesh EPA to increase bilateral trade and investment.

According to Ghosh, Japanese companies can also explore more investment opportunities in Bangladesh through the Bangladesh Special Economic Zone, which partially opened in December 2022 with the cooperation of Japan, the Public-Private Joint Economic Dialogue, and the Bangladesh-Japan Joint Public Private Partnership Platform.

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