Sunday, September 22, 2019

Mission in Toronto holds first Bangladesh business meet in Canada

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-09-04 12:34:48 BdST

Bangladesh takes a new look to Canada and holds a business forum in Toronto, which is the first ever such initiative in the history of bilateral relations between the two nations.

The new Consulate General of Bangladesh in Toronto took the initiative, and with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce or OCC, brought the business leaders of two sides together in the ‘Bangladesh-Canada Business Forum’ on Tuesday.

The forum also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the OCC and Bangladesh’s apex chamber FBCCI, which is also first of its kind, the mission said.

“It’s a steppingstone to a new height in business relations with Canada,” Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi who led the 19-member Bangladesh delegation said.

He thanked the Consulate General of Bangladesh in Toronto for organising such an “effective” Business Forum within the five months of opening of the mission in Toronto.

Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade of Ontario Victor Fedeli who was the guest of honour at the Forum stressed on “deeper engagement” with Bangladesh.

He said that the priority of Ontario province is “to generate mass employment for which it has opened its economy to foreign entrepreneurs where Bangladesh can mark its strong foothold”.

Ontario's economy is the engine of Canada, representing over one-third of national GDP and over 40 percent of exports.

The business forum took place at a time when Canada is looking for new markets outside China. Canada recently created a post of ‘senior trade commissioner’ in its high commission in Dhaka.

Canada was one of the first North American countries that recognised Bangladesh in 1972 soon after independence.

Consul General of Bangladesh in Toronto Nayem Uddin Ahmed met the top leaders of Ontario in several occasions and presented the country case.

“We are expecting a high powered business delegation from Canada by next February,” he told bdnews24.com.

The two-way trade of $2.36 billion remained stagnant in recent years. Bangladesh exports mostly readymade clothes.

“Our focus is on diversification,” the consul general said, adding that he found Canada’s interest in Bangladesh’s construction, aviation, renewable energy and green tech sectors.

UNPRECEDENTED OCCASION

The forum comprised of two panel discussions, apart from ceremonies. First one was “How Canada enhances Business and Investment with Bangladesh” and the other was on “How Bangladesh enhances Business and Investment with Canada”.

It provided a platform for the business leaders and entrepreneurs to exchange their views and ideas on sector specific comparative advantages in investment, trade promotion and win-win business.

Minister Fedeli said the signing of a MoU between the two apex chambers is an “unprecedented occasion” and demonstrates “strong partnership” between the countries to speed up further trade and investment.

Commerce Minister Munshi said that the essence of this forum is to “build business links, so that entrepreneurs and businessmen from both the business hubs can partner and work in-tandem to enhance trade and investment.”

He vowed “to stand by each other to forge mutually beneficial collaboration and investment.”

OCC President Rossi said Canada and Bangladesh have lots to offer each other and both the countries are “gaining importance as each other’s trade and investment partner”.

“Bangladesh is increasingly making inroads in the Canadian market with non-conventional products,” he said.

The Business Forum summarised that looking at the pattern and needs across the two economies and the global supply chains, some areas merit attention to both the businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Those include high-value apparels, light engineering, pharma and biologics, digital services, industrial use of jute fibre, marine fishing, frozen food, logistics, transport & communication, higher education, vocational diploma, value added services, and tertiary health care.