Japan is assisting Bangladesh to turn its coast into an economic hub, say reports. Under the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B) initiative, Japan has been implementing projects for improving connectivity, developing infrastructure and accelerating industrial growth along the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar belt area, say experts familiar with the development. The projects include a power plant, port and corporate parks.
The BIG-B initiative aims to boost connectivity between Bangladesh and its neighbouring countries Bhutan, Nepal and northeastern India, and make it the heart of the regional economy. Under this initiative, Japan is developing the Matarbari Deep Sea Port in Chattogram, coal and gas-based power plants, and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Matarbari, according to officials.
The Japanese projects will connect landlocked north-eastern India with the Bay of Bengal and at the same time tap into the local markets. China is also eyeing a permanent presence in the Bay of Bengal via Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is implementing the Moheshkhali-Matarbari area project to facilitate smooth transportation of goods. It will be connected with Dhaka by rail, road and inland waterway.
Bangladesh, in cooperation with JICA, is also developing a Japanese EPZ in the suburbs of Dhaka at Araihazar in Narayanganj. The EPZ will house manufacturing units of agro-food, light engineering, chemical, automobile assembly, garments and pharmaceutical industries, among others.