Bangladesh can woo more investment from Qatar: Business leaders

Although the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Qatar is heavily tilted in favour of the gulf nation, but there is a huge potential for wooing more investment from Qatar in Bangladesh, said business leaders.

They said Bangladesh and Qatar's bilateral trade is mainly dependent on liquefied natural gas (LNG), fertilizers and petrochemical products as Bangladesh imports these products from Qatar. 

In the last fiscal year (2022-23), the exports of Bangladesh to Qatar were about $32 million against the imports worth $2,366 million. As the size of Qatar's consumer market is small, there is less opportunity to expand the export market of consumer goods there. 

Under the circumstances, the local business leaders see great potential in attracting Qatar's investment in Bangladesh.

The Bangladeshi businessmen and business leaders said that the growth of Qatar's national economy depends mainly on the efficiency of its investments outside the country. 

They also suggested that it is necessary to give more importance on how to bring Qatari investment to Bangladesh. 

The business leaders came up with such remarks as Amir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani arrived here today on a two-day official visit as President Mohammed Shahabuddin received him. A red carpet was rolled out to accord warm reception to the Amir. 

The Head of the State welcomed Qatar Amir with flower bouquets at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in the capital this afternoon.

During Qatar's Amir's visit, six agreements and five memorandums of understandings (MoUs) are likely to be signed between the two countries.

Agreements are: avoidance of double taxation and tax evasion, cooperation in legal matters, maritime transport, mutual investment development and protection, transfer of convicted persons and establishment of a joint business council.

Apart from these, five memorandums of understanding (MoUs), including on labor force, higher education and scientific research, and cooperation in diplomatic training are likely to be signed during the visit.

Talking to BSS, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Ashraf Ahmed said, "We mainly import fuel oil, fertilizer or petrochemical products from Qatar. Compared to that, our export volume is very insignificant as Qatar's consumer market is small. So, there is less opportunity to export consumer goods there that we manufacture here. However, there is an opportunity to increase our participation in several other services sectors including construction through which bilateral trade can be expanded."

He said although there is less opportunity to boost Bangladesh's exports to Qatar, but there is a lot of potential to bring investment from that country. "Qatari Entrepreneurs want to invest abroad. They can invest in energy and banking sectors in Bangladesh."

The DCCI president also opined that the government should focus on bringing Qatari investment to the specialized industrial zones in Bangladesh.

Shams Mahmud, Director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and also managing director of Shasha Denims Ltd said if Qatar eases the process of doing business in the country for Bangladeshi garment entrepreneurs, then Bangladeshi garment exports to Qatar would increase. 

He said that Bangladeshi entrepreneurs are exporting apparel items easily by setting up overseas offices in the Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). "Bangladesh's garment exports will increase if such facilities are available in Qatar," he added.

Mahmud, also the former president of DCCI, said, Qatar is now providing business opportunities to IT developers. "We should seize that opportunity."

Echoing with Ashraf Ahmed, Mahmud also thinks that there are many opportunities to attract Qatari investment in Bangladesh. 

Mentioning that Singapore has invested in the logistics sector in Bangladesh, Mahmud said more investment is needed in this sector. "Qatar can come forward with investment in this logistics sector. Besides, they can invest here in the cold chain sector, develop specialized industrial zones and establish Qatar Airlines cargo hub in Dhaka." he added.

The former DCCI president also expressed his high hope that these issues would be given top priority in this high-level bilateral discussion.

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