Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Upcoming Visit to Japan Ignites Hope for a Stronger Bangladesh-Japan Partnership

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I, therefore, call upon all of you to come to Bangladesh, either with full investment or joint venture partnership with our dynamic end ever – growing class of young, educated entrepreneurs.

– PM Sheikh Hasina (2010)

After 13 years of Sheikh Hasina’s statement in 2010 about the special bond shared between the two countries, we have seen some remarkable developments in the Japan-Bangladesh investment domain. Japan has emerged as a flagbearer of Bangladesh’s structural development partner by investing in major projects such as the connectivity, energy and communication. The forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, to Japan marks a pivotal moment in the development of bilateral investment and cooperation between these two nations. With substantive progress made by the Sheikh Hasina government in last one decade in attracting Japanese investments, this visit is poised to build a robust bridge of mutual investment and cooperation between these two economies.

Moreover, complementarity of Bangladesh’s skilled labour force and Japan’s abundance of technology and capital create a strong basis for mutual cooperation in the field of investment, particularly during this period of the global economy’s turmoil. It has become more imperative than ever for countries to strengthen their economic links and explore new investment avenues. Nevertheless, the visit is particularly significant as it provides an opportunity for Bangladesh to attract Japanese investors and establish itself as a promising foreign investment destination. Japan, on the other hand, can leverage its resources and expertise to explore new investment possibilities and enhance mutual interests with Bangladesh. As such, this visit holds the promise of a meaningful step towards a mutually beneficial economic relationship between the two countries.

Strengthening the Bangladesh-Japan Partnership

The forthcoming visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Japan presents a unique and invaluable opportunity to further enhance the already fruitful partnership between the two nations. The continuity of the ‘visit impact’ domain is of paramount importance in achieving this objective. The visit promises to be a beacon of hope in forging a path towards a brighter, more prosperous future for both countries.

Historically, every visit between the heads of state of Bangladesh and Japan has opened up enormous opportunities for trade, ODI, FDI, and other forms of assistance. Therefore, the continuity of the ‘visit impact’ domain is vital in enhancing the Bangladesh-Japan partnership. The previous visit of Prime Minister Hasina already highlighted the significant impact of such visits in the investment domain.

Secondly, the Stable Supply of Power and Energy Programs aims to develop new power sources and improve the substation, transmission, and distribution of power in Bangladesh. Given Japan’s technological expertise in this field, this program is essential for Bangladesh to meet the growing demand for energy in the country. Bangladesh must examine long-term plans for each energy subsector, build an integrated energy development strategy for the nation, and enhance and execute more tangible and effective steps to achieve a low-carbon society.

The upcoming visit may expand this industry, and Bangladesh can assure efficient, sustainable, low-cost energy. Already, before two weeks of the visit, both Bangladesh and Japan discussed future plans to expand the business of Japanese investors in Bangladesh and expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the activities of the Bangladesh Special Economic Zone in Araihazar Upazila of Narayanganj district based on the G2G (government to government) model. Therefore, the upcoming visit will open the pathway for future G2G-based developments. It is a perfect platform for establishing new MoU’s and business agreements in promising domains such as pharmaceuticals, IT technology, and G2G-based structural developments.

Thirdly, Japan has been involved in the National Transportation Network Improvement Program, which promotes efficient mobility of people and goods in the national transport and traffic network. With Japan’s experience in developing efficient transport systems, this program is vital for Bangladesh to improve its transport network and promote economic growth.

Moreover, this visit may shed light on developing such projects in the coming years because Japan has put forth a proposal to establish an industrial hub in Bangladesh equipped with supply chains that connect to India’s north-eastern states as well as Nepal and Bhutan through the development of a nearby port and transportation infrastructure. Therefore, the visit will facilitate the possibility, build smooth connectivity, and significantly increase trade between the actors.

In addition, Japan has been involved in the Private Sector Development Programs that aim to promote investment from overseas, including Japanese companies. This program is essential for attracting foreign investment and promoting private sector growth in Bangladesh. Japan has also been involved in the Urban Development Program that supports comprehensive urban planning and provides assistance for the development of urban transport networks. With Bangladesh’s increasing urbanization, this program is crucial for sustainable urban development.

Fourthly, Japan has implemented programs in Bangladesh that aim to strengthen the value chain in the Agriculture and Rural Development sector. With technical assistance and improved financial access for farmers and agribusiness enterprises, this program aims to increase the production volume and improve the quality of agricultural products and processed products. Therefore, the upcoming visit is also important to establish newer and smarter agriculture production with the assistance of Japanese technology.

The Health System Strengthening Program utilizes Japan’s experience in supporting maternal and child health and responding to changes in disease trends in Bangladesh. Furthermore, the post-COVID health situation in Bangladesh needs more investment in medical research and establishing newer hospitals. Nevertheless, the upcoming visit has a viable prospect of building strong cooperation in the health sector.

Finally, the Disaster Prevention or Climate Change Measures Programs aim to support climate change measures programs in Bangladesh. With the increasing effects of climate change, this program is crucial for Bangladesh to mitigate the effects of climate change. Therefore, Bangladesh must examine long-term plans and develop a comprehensive strategy to cope with the effects of climate change. Therefore, the upcoming visit will play a major role in investing criteria that can ensure the climate safety.

The visit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister to Japan holds the promise of a brighter, more prosperous future for both nations. By working hand in hand and leveraging their respective strengths, Bangladesh and Japan have the potential to blaze a trail towards regional cooperation and integration. This visit is a vital step forward in cementing the partnership between these two great nations and setting the stage for a brighter tomorrow. The deep-seated expertise and technical prowess of Japan has already yielded fruitful results in Bangladesh, paving the way for a burgeoning partnership that stands to benefit both nations significantly. Therefore, this upcoming visit will open up new opportunities for Japanese investment in Bangladesh, eyeing both domestic demand and the need for greater interconnectivity and cooperation among regional economies.

– S. M. Saifee Islam is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

Published in Modern Ghana [Link]