Sumitomo to manage Tokyo-financed special economic zone near Dhaka

27, Apr. 2019

TOKYO, NNA - Major Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp. will manage a Tokyo-financed special economic zone expected to open near the Bangladesh capital Dhaka in early 2022, according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Land reclamation for the SEZ is scheduled to begin in September in Araihazar, about 30 kilometers from Dhaka, Hitoshi Hirata, head of the Bangladesh office of the Japanese government's development aid arm, JICA, said at an investment seminar in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Sumitomo will establish a special-purpose company with the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority to draw tenants from Japan and run the 300-hectare industrial park, to be developed in two phases, he said.

The initial phase, scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2022, will involve the development of land lots totaling 100 hectares for sale to Japanese companies, Hirata said

A Sumitomo spokesman declined to comment, but the trading giant is expected to confirm the move after establishment of the joint venture in May, a source familiar with the situation told NNA.

The SEZ development includes a 46,000-kilowatt gas-fired power plant, a substation, gas pipelines and a cable telecommunication network. Dhaka will cooperate with the Japanese side in opening a one-stop window, permitting swift approval of various applications for local operations, Hirata said.

The Japanese government will provide a low-interest loan for the project, but it is unclear how much this will cover of the total cost, expected to be fixed around June, Yumiko Horiwaki, a JICA spokeswoman, said in response to an email enquiry by NNA on Friday.

In 2015, the two countries signed a soft loan of up to 133.3 billion yen ($1.2 billion) for six economic development plans for the developing South Asian nation, including one aimed at facilitating foreign direct investment by setting up the SEZ with a loan of 15.8 billion yen, according to JICA.

JICA expects the SEZ to attract firms from the motorcycle, automobile, home appliance, food processing and electrical equipment sectors, Horiwaki said.

Bangladesh depends heavily on clothing for its exports, with the sector accounting for more than 80 percent of the total in the fiscal year to June 2018, according to Dhaka's Export Promotion Bureau. (NNA/Kyodo)