Referring to long-standing trade and economic relations between Bangladesh and Malaysia, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi underscored the signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to boost trade and investment.
Talks between the two countries on signing the FTA have come a long way and if Malaysia comes forward, it is possible to sign the agreement, said the minister at a bilateral meeting with a 14-member Malaysian delegation led by Malaysian Minister for Plantations, Industries and Commodities, Datuk Hajah Zuraida Binti Kamaruddin at the Bangladesh Secretariat on Thursday.
Tipu Munshi said Bangladesh is exporting various products including readymade garments, jute products, plastics, light machinery and leather goods to Malaysia. It exported goods worth $306.57 million to Malaysia and imported goods worth $1,576.89 million in 2020-21.
He said Bangladesh also has a high demand for various food and other products like Malaysian palm oil, furniture, chocolate, and fruits. "The country can profit more if it sets up factories for these products in Bangladesh. There is a lot of skilled manpower here, so it is possible to produce all these products at low cost," he added.
The commerce minister said Bangladesh imports a huge quantity of palm oil from Malaysia. Bangladesh would be grateful if Malaysia would reduce the price, given the international edible oil market situation.
About other potential industries, the minister said Bangladesh's furniture industry is also moving fast and besides other countries, there is a huge demand for furniture in the seven sister states of India.
"Construction of 100 special economic zones in Bangladesh is progressing fast and some are almost completed. Malaysia will benefit if it invests in related industries, including furniture and processing of agricultural products. We are providing some investment opportunities," the minister added.
Visiting Malaysian Minister, Datuk Hajah Zuraida Binti Kamaruddin, said Malaysia is keen to enhance trade and economic relations with Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh is a friend and an important business partner for Malaysia. Ongoing trade and economic relations between the two countries have the potential to grow, especially, with the demand for Malaysian furniture, rubber products, chocolate, sweet food products, etc in Bangladesh," he added.
Commerce Ministry Additional Secretary (IIT) AHM Shafiquzzaman and Additional Secretary (FTA) Nur Md Mahbubul Haque were present at the meeting.
The Malaysian delegation included Deputy Secretary General (industries), Mad Zaidi bin Mohd Karli, Deputy Under Secretary (International) Mrs Jaime Yeoh, Malaysia Palm Oil Board Director General, Dato Mrs Ahmad Parveez bin Ghulam Kadir, Malaysia Palm Oil Council Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Azriyah Binti Azian, Malaysia Timber Council Chairman Norrida Yusoff, Malaysia Rubber Board Director General Zairossani bin Mohd Nor, Timber Council Director Malaysia, Khairul bin Anwar, and others.