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DHAKA (Reuters) - Canada is exploring ways to increase and diversify investment and business cooperation with Bangladesh, which currently enjoys duty-free access to Canada for its exports, mainly textiles.
"In an international survey by Japan Bank for International Cooperation in the year Bangladesh was placed fifteenth in the international ranking of potential countries for investors and businessmen," Masud Rahman, President of Bangladesh-Canada Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
He said currently Canadian investment in Bangladesh, including in energy and textile sectors, totaled over $300 million and it can be increased manifold if Canadian businesses could be lured to take advantage of incentives that Dhaka offers to them.
In 2009, Bangladesh's ranking (for business potential) was 28th, Rahman said.
"Bangladesh offered a number of lucrative incentives for new investors like tax holiday, hundred percent expatriation of profit, easier visa process, work permits and cash incentives.
"Companies from Canada are seriously asking for information on pharmaceuticals, information and communication technology, plastic goods that are growing fast in Bangladesh," he said.
Besides, Canada is a world leader for hydro power production and Bangladesh can seek Canadian engagement in its efforts to harness hydro power to overcome its energy shortages, the chamber chief said.
"Bangladesh needs rapid diversification to capture a bigger slice of Canada's more than $500 billion worth of market," Rahman said.
The annual two-way trade between the two countries might reach $2 billion very shortly, provided Bangladesh diversifies its products, he said.
In 2010 Canadian imports from Bangladesh were $813 million and in 2009 it was $706 million, according to official data.
From Bangladesh, Canada buys mainly readymade garments, seafood, footwear, toys and plastic products.
"We need to explore more collaboration in business and look for technology transfer."
In 2010, Bangladesh was Canada's largest wheat buyer and the biggest pulse buyers as well.
The Chamber is trying to explore new areas of co-operation. "We are planning to organize road-show in the important cities of Canada like Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Regina in order to woo Canadian investors to invest in Bangladesh's power sector, computer technology, energy projects, advanced software and green power technologies," Rahman said.
"All Bangladeshi products have duty and quota free access to the Canadian market," Rahman said.
Bangladesh offers quality products with competitive price - which makes Bangladesh an attractive sourcing country for Canada, he added.
"Canada and Bangladesh have a bright future for cooperation in trade and investment as opportunities are there for expansion in a number of areas such as information technology, communications system development, power generation and oil and gas exploration," Rahman said.
Editing by Anis Ahmed