CanCham president discusses trade potential between Bangladesh and Canada

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=211081

Business Interview
Diversify two-way trade
CanCham president discusses trade potential between Bangladesh and Canada

There is an big opportunity for Bangladesh to export bicycles to Canada. Photo: Amran Hossain

Md Fazlur Rahman

Two-way trade between Bangladesh and Canada can easily reach $2 billion if the government diversifies export products, a chamber leader said yesterday.

Apparel items dominate the country’s exports to Canada. “But if we can diversify products, than it is possible to hit a $2billion trade target, as two-way trade is increasing,” said Masudur Rahman, president of Canada Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CanCham).

“There is a vast opportunity to enhance business relations between Bangladesh and Canada,” he told The Daily Star.

He said Bangladesh has good prospects for exporting products and services in IT, software and call centre segments. “We can also sell plastic items. There is also an export opportunity for furniture and bicycles. But we have to know the type and design of products the Canadians use.”

The business leader said there is a demand for spices among the growing Bangladeshi community in the North American country.

Between January and September, Bangladesh exported goods worth $897 million to Canada, up by 49 percent than the same period in 2010.

The country’s import however dropped by 23 percent to $343 million in the same time.

Last year, two-way trade between the two countries stood at $1.4 billion.

“The trend is very positive for the country,” said Rahman.

He said the state-run Export Promotion Bureau should help exporters take part in fairs in Canada to increase exports. “We need to participate in major fairs every year. We also need to take part in specialised fairs.”

Rahman said the presence of Canadian private companies is growing in Bangladesh as they realise the opportunities that exist within the market of about 30 million middle class people.

Canadian companies have already made their mark in textiles, infrastructure, footwear, telecommunications and power and energy projects and are recognised in Bangladesh for high quality products and services, he said.

The CanCham chief said the Canadian government organisations like Export Development Canada (EDC) could play a key role to support both the private and the public sectors of Bangladesh and undertake various turn-key projects, besides offering credit insurance and financial services to the buyers of Canadian goods and services.

He urged EDC to consider a line of credit like “Bangladesh Infrastructure Fund” in order to boost sectors such as power, oil and gas exploration, IT and aviation.

Heather Cruden, the newly appointed Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, at a meeting in her official residence in Dhaka last week, said the economic relation with Bangladesh is important to Canada. “The trade between the two countries will continue to grow.”

fazlur.rahman@thedailystar.net

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