FTA with Malaysia to boost apparel, medicine export
Bangladesh is expecting to boost its exports of garment and pharmaceutical products to Malaysia once a free trade agreement (FTA) is signed between the two countries, officials said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the far eastern Muslim country, which employs more than 400,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers, is expected to approve the FTA proposal submitted by Bangladesh, soon.
“The two countries will start negotiations on the proposed FTA, immediately after the approval, which is expected to come, ahead of the upcoming exposition of Bangladeshi products titled Showcase Bangladesh 2012, in Kuala Lumpur,” a senior official at the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) told the FE.
Once the FTA is inked, there will be vast potential in trade and investment areas of both the countries, the officials said.
The three-day second exposition of Bangladeshi products to be held from July 13, after the first one held in 2010 is also likely to solve problems faced by Bangladeshi expatriate workers in remitting their earnings to Bangladesh.
“Besides manpower, we are looking for exporting ready-made garments (RMG), pharmaceutical products and several other non-traditional items to Malaysia,” Mostafa Azad Chowdhury Babu, vice president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry told the FE.
Malaysia with a population of some 28.5 million in an area of some 330,000 sq km and with a GDP of $238 billion, is now a solvent country and meets its apparel and medicinal demands by importing from different countries in Asia, Europe and the USA.
Import by Malaysia from Bangladesh is nominal at present while it exports mainly palm oil, petroleum products worth some 950 million euro to Bangladesh annually, according to a Malaysian government website.
Malaysia has recently come forward to cooperate with Bangladesh in its efforts to boost its economy.
It is the first country that offered Bangladesh necessary assistance in building a proposed bridge over the river Padma when the World Bank and other financers backed out from their commitment of funding, the government officials in Dhaka said.
Malaysia has so far pledged some $9.0 billion including $6.0 billion for a new international airport and the rest for the proposed 6.15-kilometre multi-purpose bridge across the river Padma.
Malaysia also legalised some 267,000 Bangladeshi workers recently who had been victim of unscrupulous manpower agents.
Presently there are some 400,000 Bangladeshis working in Malaysia, mostly in manufacturing, construction, plantations, agriculture and service sector.
Expatriate workers in Malaysia send some $13 billion every year.