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Italian SMEs may invest in Bangladesh

Benedetto Della Vedova

Benedetto Della Vedova

Bangladesh should focus on exploring its domestic market, in addition to its export markets, while small and medium Italian enterprises can invest here in joint ventures to serve local and regional markets, said an Italian minister.

Bangladesh is maintaining economic growth at 6-7 percent, and the steady growth rate means the country needs a supply of good products for its domestic market, said Benedetto Della Vedova, deputy foreign minister of Italy.

“We have a huge number of small and medium enterprises that can invest in your country and help transfer technology,” he said in an interview with The Daily Star during his two-day visit to Dhaka last week.

Vedova said they will promote investment and partnerships between the Italian SMEs and businesses in Bangladesh to serve the domestic market. “Bangladesh can also become a hub to serve the regional markets.”

In the coming years, the focus must not be on exports alone, said the deputy foreign minister, who came to Dhaka to improve trade ties between the two countries.

“You will export garments only, while you will import everything else. But, you have to be ready with domestic production to serve the local markets that are growing fast with a growing demand for quality products.”

Italy can cooperate in the areas of energy and natural resources, transfer of technology, heavy machinery for textiles, fishing and tourism, to benefit both countries, he added.

Many countries have technologies in several sectors, but Italian technology and machinery are more flexible and suitable for Bangladesh, he said.

However, Vedova said political stability is a pre-requisite to have a suitable environment that attracts foreign investment.

“You need political stability and you need a peaceful and predictable environment.”

Italy and the European Union are concerned over the present political situation in the country. “This situation must end and non-violent democratic political process must restart. We truly condemn any act of violence and any word, language or speech that causes violence on the streets.”

On bilateral trade, he said the gap is growing mainly because Italian imports from Bangladesh are high.

Italy imported products worth 904.2 million euros from Bangladesh during January-October of 2014, exceeding 865 million euros in the same period of the previous year, said Vedova.

“We think we can improve trade volumes and our exports in the field of transfer of technology and machinery, not only for the textile industry but also for agriculture, food production and so on.”

Referring to Expo Milan 2015 that is scheduled for May 1, where Bangladesh will participate in the rice cluster, he said it will be a great opportunity to showcase Bangladesh and its agriculture products, and also discuss sustainable food production, energy production and the green industry.

“It will be a potential win-win situation for both our countries,” he said, adding that Italy is home to the second-largest Bangladeshi community in Europe, nearly 128,000 people, and their remittances are an important source of foreign revenue for Bangladesh.

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Source: Daily Star

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