Thai businessmen will be interested in investing in Bangladesh if the government makes the taxation system easier and improves infrastructure especially in the transport sector, said a diplomat of Thailand yesterday.
Suebsak Dangboonrueng, minister counsellor (commercial) of the Thai Embassy in Dhaka, said the policies and the intention of the government of Bangladesh aimed at attracting investment from Thailand were good, but there were some obstacles.
“I think the government of Bangladesh should improve infrastructure and the transport sector to attract more foreign investors as there is a high potential for foreign investment,” he told The Daily Star in an interview at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka.
He said Thai investors were keen to invest particularly in the food processing sector as Thai food products were very popular here. Thai food and cosmetic exporters have to pay 90 to 100 percent in customs duty, and Dangboonrueng described the high duty as a challenge for Thailand to boost exports to Bangladesh.
Still, Thai exporters continue doing business with Bangladesh as there is a huge business potential in the country.
Besides, local consumers love Thai products, according to the diplomat.
Thailand is an important trading partner of Bangladesh, but the balance of the bilateral trade is heavily tilted towards the Southeast Asian country.
Thailand exported products worth $1.2 billion to Bangladesh last year against imports of only $61 million. Garment exports fetched $34 million for Bangladesh in the year.
Dangboonrueng, however, pointed out that the export volume of Bangladesh to Thailand is growing: it was $44 million in 2015 and $55 million in 2016. “There is a huge possibility for Bangladesh to boost trade with Thailand.”
Bangladesh's imports from Thailand include auto parts, industrial equipment and hardware, rice, tropical fresh fruit, food and beverage, gift and decorative items, stationery, baby products, garment, jewellery, footwear and health and beauty products.
Sajjatuz Jumma, president of the Bangladesh-Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Thai businessmen feel comfortable to invest within Thailand instead of investing outside of the country and want to export products to Bangladesh instead of relocating factories. Still, the chamber continues inviting them to invest in Bangladesh, he said.
Thailand is also an attractive destination for Bangladesh's tourists. In 2017, 1.32 lakh people visited the country.
The figure is increasing every year as the spending power of Bangladeshi people is rising in line with the country's rapid economic development, said Dangboonrueng.
Later at a press briefing organised to announce the forthcoming Thailand Week 2018, Dangboonrueng said 45 Thai companies and 27 Bangladeshi companies that import Thai products or were agents of Thai companies would take part in the fair.
The four-day event at the Pan Pacific hotel starts on April 23 and is open to visitors from 11:00am to 9:00pm.
The Department of International Trade Promotion of the commerce ministry of Thailand and the Thai Embassy in Dhaka are jointly organising the 17th edition of the exposition.