PM for two-way trade with Laos

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday stressed enhancing the volume of two-way trade with Laos by harnessing untapped resources of the both countries.

“We’ve immense scope to increase our volume of trade by harnessing our untapped resources, and during our official talks, we’ve emphasised on finding ways and means for increasing our mutual flow of trade and investment,” the prime minister said.

The export from Bangladesh and Laos to other countries is doing reasonably well, but it is still negligible between two countries, she said while speaking at a luncheon hosted by Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong at Lao Plaza Hotel in Vientiane.

She indicated that at present, Laos can import from Bangladesh quality pharmaceuticals now being exported to 93 countries, ceramics and porcelain now going to 61 destinations in Europe, Americas, Africa and Asia, readymade garments, textiles, leather and footwear.

“I warmly invite investors from Laos to come and consider the possibilities of investment in Bangladesh,” the prime minister said.

She mentioned that the investment policies of Bangladesh are also among the most liberal in the region, with fiscal incentives as tax holiday, duty concessions, full repatriation of dividends and capital, legal protection and exclusive infrastructure and all necessary facilities in exclusive Export Processing Zones.

She also noted that the economies of Bangladesh and Laos are based primarily on agriculture, fisheries and agro-based products, and are developing into manufacturing and industrial ones.

Hasina said that Laos might possibly benefit from Bangladesh’s connectivity with India, Nepal, Bhutan and China — the combined market of over three billion people.

“Bangladesh’s strategic location, connecting South Asia and South East Asia and having sea, air and land links can provide Laos access to the region.”

She mentioned that in the last four years, Bangladesh has also been achieving annual GDP growth rate of about 6.5 percent with inflation currently less than 5 percent, per capita income increase by 34.6 percent, average annual 20 percent increase in exports and increase of 10 percent in the inflow of remittances, an affordable labor and a liberal investment climate.

“The situation is ideal for Laotian businessmen to come and do business in Bangladesh,” she said.

The prime minister said Bangladesh and Laos enjoy warm relations based on friendship, mutual respect, shared culture, common values, heritage and commitment to peace and good neighborly relations. “Bangladesh admires Laos for its laudable progress, development and other achievements.”

With globalisation, she said, South and South East Asia have come nearer, and Bangladesh straddling the two regions, closer to her eastern neighbors and Laos. “The opportunity has given our two countries scope for optimum utilization of our potentials for greater benefit of our peoples.”

Hasina hoped that her visit will pave the way for exchange of increased number of visits at all levels and for sharing experiences to both countries’ mutual benefit.

She said that Bangladesh and Laos will be in a position to face common challenges, including globalisation, world economic meltdown and climate change, with confidence by working together and by utilizing the potentials and human resources.

“My aim, therefore, is to build a strong partnership between peoples of Bangladesh and Laos as well as with those of other countries in South East Asia.”

In the international arena, Bangladesh and Laos have excellent cooperation at the United Nations and at all other forums, she added.

Hasina thanked her Laotian counterpart for supporting Bangladesh’s membership in the Asean Regional Forum, and now in the Asem.

She said: “We also seek your support for our entry into the Mekong-Ganges Cooperation Initiative, the East-West Economic Corridor, and in becoming an Asean Dialogue Partner.”

Hasina invited the Laos Prime Minister to visit Bangladesh and said it would be an “exceptional pleasure for me and for our people if Madam Thongsing Thammavong accompanies you on such a visit.”

She said that Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong’s presence in Bangladesh following “our presence in Laos” would indeed be a further leap forward in the already existing warm friendship between our two countries and peoples.

Source: The Daily Star

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