Policy makers of Dhaka and Bangkok felt that political will is needed to boost bilateral trade and attract investment from Thailand.
The issue was discussed at the ministerial level panel discussion held at the sideline of the first ever Bangladesh Trade and Investment Expo 2016 in Bangkok.
The three-day gala event was inaugurated at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre on Monday.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Energy State Minister Nasrul Hamid Bipu, Women and Children Affairs State Minister Meher Afroz Chumki and Post and Telecommunications State Minister Begum Tarana Halim have flown in to Bangkok to attend the event. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammad Shahriar Alam would join the event Tuesday.
In reciprocity, Thai Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn, Industries Minister Atchaka Sibunruang, Vice-Minister Information and Communication Technology Oansak Siriruchatapong, Chairman of Standing Committee on Energy Kurujit Nakornthap, Chairman of Federation of Thai Industries Chen Namchaisiri and Vice-chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce Kalin Sarasin attended the event.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand Saida Muna Tasneem told the Dhaka Tribune that she wanted the political leadership of both the countries sit together and engage to explore the potentiality of boosting trade and investment.
This is a new era that all of them want to create, she added.
In the panel discussion, telecom, energy and tourism were identified as prospective sector for Thai investment.
Industries Minister Atchaka Sibunruang in the discussion said there is room to improve bilateral trade relations as the two-way trade figure is less than $1 billion.
The Thai government has encouraged investors to invest in neighbouring countries and Bangladesh could be one of them, she said.
Citing her experience, she said that she visited Dhaka five years back and she came to know that one big Thai company wanted to set up a factory in Bangladesh but could not do so due to land problem.
She was of the view that if the land problem is removed, more Thai investors would show interest in Bangladesh.
Chairman of Federation of Thai Industries Chen Namchaisiri said Thailand should recognise to improve relations with its neighbours in the west.
He said Thailand invested those countries which are located in its east, but it should give more focus on its neighbours on the west.
Bangladesh is located west of Thailand.
He felt that energy sector is a prospective investment area in Bangladesh.
Besides, pharma, construction, automobile, textile, raw material and food industry are the other prospective areas, he added.
The chief the Thai federation said they have no intention to capture market of Japan or other countries; rather they want to operate in a niche market.
Chairman of Standing Committee on Energy Kurujit Nakornthap said Thailand has expertise in renewable energy and it can help Bangladesh in this regard.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said Thailand is investing in Asean countries but, they have less investment in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is developing PowerPac Economic Zone (Mongla) 100 special economic zones in Bangladesh and if Thai investors want, they can get one of them, he said.
He urged the Thai investors to invest in Bangladesh and requested the Thai authorities to provide duty- and quota free market access for Bangladeshi products.
Bangladesh currently enjoys duty free access of 6,998 products for Thai market.
State Minister for Energy Nasrul Hamid Bipu said his sector needs $40 billion in the next coupe of years and Thai investors can help Bangladesh in this regard.
Post and Telecommunications Minister Tarana Halim said the government’s objective is to have 100% phone penetration and Thai investors take interest in it.
Thai Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said at the end of this year, Bangladesh-Thai joint trade committee meeting would be held where she would take part.