Bangladesh is developing a new EPZ for attracting more foreign direct investment (FDI) with diversified products, as investors queue up for plots amid economic bounceback, says a top official.
Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Export Procession Zones Authority (BEPZA) Major General Nazrul Islam says they have started developing its ninth EPZ and diversifying investment products for netting more FDI.
The Authority is working to build the BEPZA EPZ at Mireswarai in Chattogram where some 140 plots have already been developed, he told the FE.
Some 107 plots have already been allocated provisionally to some local and foreign companies, he said in an interview recently at his office in Dhaka.
"The main vision of our 9th EPZ would be attracting investment from diverse sectors in addition to the apparel one," the Executive Chairman said.
"We have lot of investments from readymade garment sector in the EPZs like Dhaka, Chattogram. Now we want to diversify our export products for reducing dependence on the RMG. So the BEPZA EPZ will be a destination for diversified productions," Mr Nazrul added.
According to BEPZA, it would develop a total of 539 plots in the EPZ being built at Mireswarai in Chattogram.
The Authority will develop 1,150 acres of land in the zone, close by the Bangabandhu Special Economic Zone at Mireswarai.
Meanwhile, some 250 applications for the plots in the BEPZA EPZ are pending for settlement.
The BEPZA, a public-sector agency for attracting export-oriented private investment into Bangladesh, has already set up eight EPZs across Dhaka, Chattogram, Mongla, Nilphamari, Cumilla and Adamjee in Narayanganj.
EPZ is considered one of the success stories in Bangladesh as exports from the export-processing zones accounted for US$6.64 billion of the country's export receipts in the last fiscal year (FY 202-21), BEPZA statistics show.
He said they would complete handover of all the planned 539 plots in the BEPZA EPZ by the year 2023 to private investors for setting up their factories.
The BEPZA Executive Chairman said: "We have only eight EPZs comprising 2,200 acres of land. But we fetch nearly one-sixth of the total foreign-trade earnings of the country."
"Gradually, we are handing over the plots, depending on their development. We have a lot of applications from the investors seeking plots there," he added.
Asked about their future plans, he said they also have a plan to set up three other EPZs in Patuakhali, Gaibandha and Jashore.
"Feasibility studies for the proposed EPZs are going on. After the studies, we will go for the development," he added.
Based on the availability of land, they would start development of the EPZs.
Mr Nazrul described some challenges in attracting FDI into the country as there are shortages of high-skilled manpower, modern and market-based education system, and technical know-how.
So, he regretted, technology transfer is not going on at an expected level from the foreign companies to local manpower.