Monthly Archives: October 2009

Pragoti to begin assembling Pajero Sports in 2011

Pragoti to begin assembling Pajero Sports in 2011

Our Correspondent

CHITTAGONG, Oct 30: The country’s biggest vehicle assembling industry Pragoti will bring in the market a new model jeep – Pajero Sports – a modern version of its V-31 Pajero in 2011.

The new model jeep will be assembled at the factory of Pragoti Industries Ltd (PIL) at Barabkunda under Sitakunda of Chittagong under joint venture with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation of Japan, PIL sources said.

The sources said, the PIL management has already held primary consultation with the Mitsubishi Motors. A four-member team of Mitsubishi Motors visited the PIL factory at Barabkunda on July 13 last. The team also had a meeting with the senior officials of Bangladesh Steel and Engineering Corporation (BSEC) in Dhaka on July 15.

The sources said, the sales representative of Mitsubishi in Bangladesh and other officials of the company agreed to assemble Pajero Sports and Sedan at the PIL factory. The PIL is currently assembling V-31 Pajero under long-term agreement with the Mitsubishi.

Following that visit a team from Bangladesh headed by a joint secretary of the Ministry of Industries (MoI) visited the Mitsubishi factory in Thailand for three days from September 9 last. The team included senior officials from BSEC and PIL, the sources said.

PIL Managing Director Zahiruddin Chowdhury said, the price of Pajero Sports is yet to be fixed. “The price will be fixed after completion of the production process. But the new model Pajero will be an upgraded version of V-31. So the price will be more than that of V-31,” he said.

Chowdhury said, the PIL is not in a position to go for assembling bus, truck or light vehicle except V-31 due to absence of long term agreement with any other company. “That is why we are trying to procure such vehicles from other countries under joint venture or we will assemble those vehicles by importing completely knocked-down (CKD) vehicles under long-term agreement and assemble them in our factory,” he said.

Although the PIL has the capacity to produce as many as 500 vehicles a year it has no factory of its own for repairing and maintenance of the vehicles. So the PIL has currently decided to invite proposals for a service-cum-maintenance workshop at its 43,560 square feet vacant land at Tejgaon in Dhaka under public private partnership, the MD added.


Bangladesh fares better than low-income competitors, says IMF outlook

Bangladesh fares better than low-income competitors, says IMF outlook

FE Report

Lower labour costs and a more vertically integrated garment sector have enabled Bangladesh to gain market share this year in the large economies, compared to the situation of its low-income competitors.

According to the IMF outlook for Asia and the Pacific, released Thursday in Seoul, overall export volumes of Asian low-income countries (LIC) are likely to see only a slight decline in 2009.

“The exchange rate depreciation relative to the euro as a result of its US dollar peg also help the country gain market share,” it said mentioning the case of Bangladesh.

“It is much better performance than in the newly industrialised economies and ASEAN-4, where volumes are likely to be significantly down for 2009.”

After being hit hard by the global economic slump, Asia is now rebounding fast, stated the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its Regional Economic Outlook for the Asia and Pacific Region.

The longer-term shifts in strategic sourcing by multinational corporations (MNCs) toward lowest-cost producers have benefited Bangladesh and Vietnam, allowing them to gain market shares, especially in the United States.

The outlook, however, said Cambodia’s garment exports appear to be suffering because of higher labour and utility costs, lower productivity, and lack of vertical integration.

In response to the global recession, Bangladesh announced and offered proactively stimulus package to increase capital and social spending, reduce tax and interest, and other government subsidies to designated sectors.

The outlook cautioned that the implementation of stimulus measures has been constrained by available financing and capacity limitations.

Positive growth in remittance flow is expected in Bangladesh as most of its migrant workers are employed in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Most Asian LICs are expected to record positive growth in 2009 and should see a further strengthening of activity in 2010 as global conditions continue to improve, the outlook said.

IMF forecasts suggest Asia will grow by 5.75 per cent in 2010–far higher than the 1.25 per cent predicted for the G-7 economies but well short of the 6.67 per cent average recorded for the region over the past decade.

“A strong rebound in exports is unlikely, given that some of the Asian LICs’ export products including agricultural goods and garments have low responsiveness to global demand changes.”

The outlook said establishing a robust recovery in the Asian LICs, however, will depend on their ability to maintain macroeconomic stability.

“The threats to stability are many: fiscal deficits are large, credit growth and inflation are high, and in some cases international reserves are low.”

Tighter monetary conditions would help rein in credit growth and alleviate emerging inflation concerns in Bangladesh, the outlook said.

The report said Asia’s outlook remains closely tied to the global economy and the key behind Asia’s recovery was bounced back from the sudden stop in global trade and finance at the end-2008.

“This has fuelled a rapid recovery in exports, boosting industrial production and overall GDP,” said the report.

In the wake of the global downturn, Asian government authorities swiftly deployed packages to boost public spending, reduce interest rates, and stabilise financial markets.

These measures were much larger than in previous crises, and in the case of the fiscal programmes, even larger, on average, than those introduced by the Group of 20 industrialised and emerging market countries.

“The vigorous reaction was made possible by Asia’s relatively strong initial conditions: in many countries, government fiscal positions were sounder, monetary policies more credible, and corporate and bank balance sheets sturdier than at any time in the past,” noted the report.

Kevin Brown of the Financial Times adds from Singapore under syndication service: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) more than doubled its forecast for Asian economic growth for the year and raised its forecast for 2010, reflecting a sharp improvement in the region’s prospects over the past six months.

In its latest Asia Pacific regional economic outlook, the fund forecast growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.8 per cent for this year and of 5.8 per cent for 2010. In May, the IMF said growth would be just 1.2 per cent in 2009 and 4.3 per cent in 2010.

“The primary driver of Asia’s recovery has been a progressive return towards [normality] following the abrupt collapse in global trade and finance at the end of 2008,” the IMF said, also highlighting forceful monetary and fiscal stimulus programmes within the region. “Just as the US downturn triggered an outsized fall in Asia’s GDP because international trade and finance froze, now their normalisation is generating an outsized Asian upturn.”

Anoop Singh, the IMF’s Asia Pacific director, said the recovery was largely export based, adding that regional governments need to maintain caution because of the sluggishness of advanced economies. It forecast that 2010 growth would consequently remain below the 6.6 per cent annual regional average posted over the last decade.

“As we look ahead to the next decade, it is likely that private demand from advanced economies and the US is not going to be as strong as we had expected,” Mr Singh said. “This means that for Asia to retain its strong growth momentum, it needs to shift the drivers of recovery from an export engine more into domestic demand within Asia.”

The IMF said there had been “exceptional uncertainty” at the time of its May forecasts, which had now receded. However, it said risks remained that could weaken growth, including a premature exit from extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies.

“If signs of renewed external environment weakness were to arise, the positive feedback loop triggered in Asia could shift into reverse,” the report said, warning that renewed foreign risk aversion and weak demand could trigger capital outflows and induce companies to shed jobs.

In a slew of country upgrades published with the report, it raised growth forecasts for 2010 for Japan from 0.5 per cent to 1.7 per cent, for Australia from 0.7 per cent to 2.0 per cent, and for China from 7.5 per cent to 9.0 per cent. The forecast for South Korea was raised from 1.6 per cent to 3.6 per cent and for India from 5.6 per cent to 6.4 per cent.

Expo Bangladesh 2009 trade fair begins in London November 1

Expo Bangladesh 2009 trade fair begins in London November 1

A three-day Bangladesh fair in London will begin on November 1 in a bid to popularise the products of the country, reports UNB.

Bangladesh-British Trade Co-operation (BBTC) organises the Expo Bangladesh 2009 with the assistance of Bangladesh High Commission in London and British-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith is likely to go to London to inaugurate the fair, said a press release.

Bangladeshi export items including apparels, leather products, tea, crafts, frozen food, dry food, furniture and home textile will be displayed at the fair.

The maritime boundary issue

The maritime boundary issue

The situation has now come to a point where some of our diplomats earlier involved in negotiations on the issue with other countries feel that not only we may be denied our right to the sea to the south but we may even be reduced to a sea-locked state. Moreover, experts on oil exploration of the deep sea are of the opinion that the claims by both India and Myanmar of the sea fall within the limits of our boundary, writes Professor M Maniruzzaman Miah

The minister for foreign affairs, Dipu Mani, revealed in a press conference the government’s decision to go for arbitration to settle our dispute with both India and Myanmar in regard to the delimitation of our maritime boundary. It would be interesting for the general readers to know as to how international law in this regard has evolved and why and how this problem has arisen. In the course of the discussion naturally the issue involved will be brought to the fore.

First, the evolution of the law of the sea. Several conferences on the law of the sea were held to formulate and define the rights and obligations of each littoral state. The first conference was held in Geneva in 1958 with the participation of 86 member states. This conference adopted four conventions in regard to the territorial sea, the high seas, the continental shelf and fishing and conservation of living resources.

The second conference met in 1960 but ended up in disagreements on some vital issues. This was followed by three other conferences successively held in 1967, 1968 and in 1970. Having held very important deliberations the one in 1970 agreed to declare the sea-bed and ocean floor and the sub-soil thereof as the common heritage of mankind beyond the national jurisdiction of any one country. It was also decided to hold another conference to formulate laws governing the peaceful uses of the seas.

The next conference met in ten long sessions between 1973 and 1981 either in Geneva or in New York. On the conclusion of the last session, the text of the draft convention (UNCLOS III) was issued though the final decision-making session was held in 1982. On December 10, 1982 the draft was opened for signature at Montego Bay, Jamaica. Bangladesh was among the 119 countries that became a signatory on the same day.

As is evident from the above, the UNCLOS III document is the product of work of specialists spread over a long time. This is so for the simple reason that the shape and location of each country in relation to the adjacent one is different. Therefore the peculiarity of each had necessarily to be taken into consideration.

Summarily speaking the document sets out the principles for delimitation of maritime boundary of all countries each one of which may have a coastline with its own peculiarity. In any case, UNCLOS-III defines the maritime zones in the following manner. From a well-defined line called the baseline each country may claim an area stretching up to 12 nautical miles known as the territorial sea. Adjacent to the territorial sea and up to a limit of 24 nautical miles is a country’s contiguous zone, beyond which is the EEZ stretching up to 200 nautical miles.

The continental shelf of a coastal state comprising the seabed and the subsoil thereof may under certain circumstances stretch up to 350 nautical miles. The UNCLOS document has precisely explained as to how these boundaries have to be fixed and the rights and obligations of each coastal state within each zone so defined.

How have we acted in this respect so far and why has the conflict arisen with the neighbouring country in this regard? As early as in 1974, the baseline from where the boundaries of each maritime zone have to be drawn was defined by an act of parliament in terms of geographical co-ordinates. However, India has not agreed to the western reference point of the baseline and Myanmar has also disputed the eastern one. From 1974 to 1982 several meetings were held between India and Bangladesh but without any positive result. With India, we have yet another unsettled maritime issue, namely, the one in respect of the Talpatti island (also known as Purbasha or New Moore island).

At one point of time during the negotiations, the two countries agreed to a joint survey to determine the mid-channel of the Hariabhanga river to finally settle as to which country the sand bar should belong. This has never taken place, reportedly due to the dilly-dally tactics of our big neighbour. While we have not been able to put our claim to the vast maritime area on our south, now we seem to be within the jaws of a vice. Let us explain. India has settled its maritime boundary with each one of its neighbouring countries sharing the sea, not only surrounding the Bay of Bengal but beyond, with Indonesia in 1974 and 1977, with Myanmar in 1987 the tri-junction of India, Thailand and Indonesia in 1978 and Sri Lanka, with some concession in 1974 and 1976.

The situation has now come to a point where some of our diplomats earlier involved in negotiations on the issue with other countries feel that not only may we be denied our right to the sea to the south but we may even be reduced to a sea-locked state. Moreover, experts on oil exploration of the deep sea are of the opinion that the claims by both India and Myanmar of the sea fall within the limits of our boundary. Meanwhile we came to know, much to our horror, at a very sensitive time in our national life just days before the last parliamentary elections, of military manoeuvres in our Bay by both India and Myanmar. Do all these mean pre-figuration of more similar things to come?

What course is open to us now? It was rightly envisaged by those who drafted the UNCLOS documents that there would be disputes between states in regard to the interpretation and application of the law. More so, in our case. Because the Bangladesh coastline is an indented one and that both the Indian and Myanmar coastlines are perpendicular to ours.

Naturally, delimitation by applying the normal principle of equidistance is out of the question. In any case, settlement of disputes constitutes an important part of UNCLOS. While we have wasted too much time in realising the importance of the issue we may not procrastinate any further. At the same time, however, one should understand that the matter is a complex one, albeit, the part on settlement of disputes in UNCLOS is quite comprehensive and an elaborate one leaving no room for misinterpretation. More so, because, the panel of arbitrators from where a state party will choose its arbitrators consists of people selected by various organs of the UN like the FAO, UNEP, IOC and the IMO.

The arbitrators to be nominated by parties to the dispute must be known for their experience in maritime matters, enjoying at the same time highest reputation for fairness, competence and integrity. The flipside of the whole thing is that the decision of the tribunal shall be final (art. 11, Annex II: Arbitration) unless the parties to the dispute earlier agreed otherwise. This enjoins on us extreme caution to prepare our case flawlessly. We can’t really have the luxury of making any faux pas. People who have some interest in the problem know that we need to undertake surveys to put forward our claim of the continental shelf beyond the 200 we mark, measure the thickness of the sediment all over the EEZ up to the 200 we and clearly formulate our claim to the extended shelf.

The point we are trying to make is that the matter cannot be handled by a charlatan, but really needs someone with impeccable record of experience and expertise in dealing with it. The ministry of foreign affairs will do well to appoint a real expert known to have a thorough knowledge of the UNCLOS and its application, an expert who can work out the different phases of the task to be undertaken and advise the government as to what should be done to begin with and what would be the sequence of tasks to be undertaken.

With whatever little knowledge we have of the problem, we are at a loss to understand as to why we have asked for ‘arbitration’. Have we exhausted the very preliminary option of settling disputes by ‘peaceful means’? Do we have all the data and information in hand to argue our case skilfully and exhaustively?

Let us hope the foreign ministry is well prepared to face the situation competently.

The writer is a former vice-chancellor of Dhaka University. He can be reached at

German business team visits Western Marine

German business team visits Western Marine

Oct 30: A 23-member team of German Asia-Pacific Business Association (OAV), a network of German companies doing business in Asia, visited the country’s leading shipyard Western Marine Shipyard Ltd in Chittagong last afternoon.

The OAV team, comprised of representatives from shipbuilding, designing, engineering, energy and IT sectors, was headed by Peter Clasen, owner of renowned merchant shipper Wilheim G. Clasen.

During the visit, CF Zaman, Country Manager of Germanischer Lloyd, and Arifur Rahman Khan, Technical Director of Western Marine Shipyard and Capt Md Jahirul Haque, representative from Chittagong Port Authority were present.

Western Marine Shipyard Ltd Managing Director Sakhawat Hossain made a presentation about the activities of the company during a seminar organised to mark the visit.

In the seminar, the delegation members said that they see huge potential of Bangladesh to grow as a major shipbuilding nation.

The speakers expressed that shipbuilding sector can be Bangladesh’s next flagship industry after RMG with potential to earn billions of dollars.

Chairman of Western Marine Shipyard Saiful Islam said Bangladesh government had liberalised its macro-economic policies progressively to attract more foreign investment.

The government has also offered incentives and facilities including floating rate of exchange and guaranteed repatriation of capital and profit by legislation, added Islam welcoming the German investors to exploit the opportunities. Abdul Mobin, Director (Shipyard) of Western Marine Services, moved vote of thanks.

Digital ICT Fair begins Nov 7

Digital ICT Fair begins Nov 7
Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka

The nine-day ‘Digital ICT Fair-2009’ will begin on November 7 at the Multiplan Centre at Elephant Road in the city.

Multiplan Centre Shop Owners Association is arranging the fair with the slogan ‘Let ICT be a Tool for Changing Days’.

Minister for information and cultural affairs Abul Kalam Azad will inaugurate the fair as the chief guest.

Adviser to the prime minister Syed Modasser Ali, state minister for science and ICT Yafez Osman, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University AAMS Arefin Siddique, vice-chancellor of BRAC University Jamilur Reza Chowdhury and FBCCI president Annisul Haque will be present as special guests.

According to the organisers, about 400 shops will be set up from the fourth floor to the tenth floor on an area of about one lakh square feet at the Multiplan Centre.

Brand new PC, cloned PC, LCD monitor, mouse, keyboard, CD, speaker, DVD, CD ROM drive, calling card, internet card, mouse pad, pen drive, memory card, printer and scanner will be available at the fair at a fair price, they said.

Besides computer products, mobile phone and its accessories, MP-3, MP-4 and digital camera will also be available at the show, they added.

Other features of the fair, they said, include painting competition for children, debate and SMS and quiz competitions for students, seminar, symposium, free online ticket booking and internet browsing.

The entrance fee has been fixed at Tk 10. However, school students can visit the fair without any fee, the organizers said.

GE to debut outsourcing in Bangladesh

GE to debut outsourcing in Bangladesh
Star Business Report

US industrial giant General Electric (GE) plans to outsource jobs to Bangladesh for the first time, presenting a huge opportunity in the outsourcing business.

GE, which employs around 40,000 people in India alone — mainly in the outsourcing sector — will initially provide jobs to a company founded by Bangladeshi expatriates in the US.

Mi3 Inc, based in the US, will invest around $300 million in Bangladesh initially to set up facilities to receive work orders from GE, said company officials at a function in Dhaka on Wednesday.

“Initially we will employ about 2,000 people in our outsourcing office,” said Marfia Zakir, Mi3 country director for Bangladesh.

Zakir said her company wants to invest over $2 billion to develop the high-tech park at Kaliakoir in Gazipur under public private partnership, if they get the green light from the government.

Speaking as chief guest, State Minister for Science and ICT Yeafesh Osman said the government is developing infrastructure for the IT sector.

Trimothy Norton, an official of Vendor Management Organisation of GE, said GE is open to all the countries and its arrival could bring the same result for Bangladesh as for India.

The 11-hour time difference between Bangladesh and the US can be a strong opportunity for the former to receive outsourcing business orders, said Duck Diction, chief executive officer of Mi3 USA.

Brac University Vice Chancellor Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Aftabul Islam, president of American Chamber of Commerce, also spoke at the function.