Wed, May 10, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Local firms investing billions in Bangladesh

AFP , DHAKA

Taiwanese companies are ready to invest billions of dollars in impoverished Bangladesh to combat EU anti-dumping duties and rising wages in China and Vietnam, an official said yesterday.

In the past two years, around 250 Taiwanese investors had visited Bangladesh to assess opportunities, James Wu (吳新華), deputy director general of Taiwan's Bureau of Foreign Trade said.

"Footwear, bicycle and textile entrepreneurs in particular are very much keen to invest in Bangladesh following the European Union's anti-dumping duties on China and Vietnam. They have billions of dollars to invest," he said.

A combination of rising labor costs in China and Southeast Asia and anti-dumping duties on Chinese and Vietnamese-made footwear and bicycles had prompted many Taiwanese investors to look for an alternative destination, he said.

The EU imposed the duties on Chinese and Vietnamese leather shoes from April 7 saying governments and manufacturers in the two countries had engaged in unfair trade practices.

The duties are to be imposed gradually over five months and will rise to 19.4 percent for adult leather shoes from China and 16.8 percent for Vietnam.

The EU also imposed a maximum 47.5 percent duties on Chinese-made bicycles and 35 percent on ones from Vietnam in the middle of last year, Wu said.

The duties were needed, according to the EU, because Chinese and Vietnamese manufacturers enjoyed state aid in the form of soft loans, tax breaks and low rents among other breaks.

Wu, who is leading a delegation of 97 companies to Bangladesh, said cheap labour in that country and its special tariff advantages make it a "most attractive" destination.

"Bangladeshi labor costs US$40 a month while it is about US$100 in China and around US$70 in Vietnam. In addition, exports from the country enjoy special tariff advantages to the EU nations," he said.

Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries where half the 140 million population lives on less than a dollar a day, allowed Taiwan to set up a trade office in the capital Dhaka in May 2004.

Five companies have recently invested in textile and construction while a footwear company, Pou Chen Group (寶成集團), a major supplier of sportswear to Nike and Adidas, is looking for land to set up a factory expected to employ 40,000 workers, officials said.

To date, a total of 39 Taiwanese companies have set up plants in Bangladesh, investing around US$200 million.

In the past two years all of these factories ramped up their factory outputs due to huge export orders, said James Kuo (郭明修), director of the Taiwanese Trade Center in Bangladesh.

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