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EPZs cross the $8 billion mark for the first time

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Eight government Export Processing Zones (EPZ) of the country under the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) did really well in terms of employment generation, export earnings, and investment in the last 2021-22 fiscal year (FY).

The export earnings in FY2021-22 of the industries of EPZs hit all-time high growth since its journey of 40 years, registering a 30.41% growth to $8.65 billion from $6.63 billion in FY21, crossing the $8 billion mark for the first time.

According to the Bepza data, despite various issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, order cancellation and order deference in the last two years, the industries located in the eight EPZs have made a great comeback.

The share of EPZ was 16.65% of the total export earnings of FY22, Bepza data revealed.

Record growth in export earnings 

Among the total export earnings in the FY2021-22, Chittagong EPZ was top by bagging $2.59 billion followed by Dhaka EPZ’s $2.12 billion, Karnaphuli EPZ’s $1.44 billion, Adamjee EPZ’s $935.76 million, Comilla EPZ’s $814.82 million, Uttara EPZ’s $376.66 million, Ishwardi EPZ’s $209.06 million, and Mongla EPZ’s $158.24 million.

Meanwhile, as of June 2022, the total export earnings from EPZs reached $96 billion.

However, the apparel shipment accounts for 54.68% of EPZ and 85% of the country’s total export. This means EPZs are the hub of producing diverse products.

Bepza attracted record investment 

Bepza has attracted an investment of $409.8 million in FY22, fetching a growth of 20.26% from $340.75 million in FY21, surpassing all previous records.

Chittagong EPZ has attracted the highest investment of $88.86 million followed by Dhaka EPZ’s $71.07 million, Adamjee EPZ’s $70.62 million, Comilla EPZ’s $67.46 million, Karnaphuli EPZ’s $45.15 million, Ishwardi EPZ’s $42.78 million, Mongla EPZ’s $18.68 million, and Uttara EPZ’s $5.18 million.

The investors from 37 countries including South Korea, China (Taiwan & Hong Kong), Japan, India, the UK, USA, along with Bangladesh invested $6.04 billion as of June 2022 in the eight EPZs under Bepza.

Bepza generated 64,160 employment

In the recently ended FY22, Bepza has created a milestone by creating employment for 64,160 Bangladeshi nationals, up from over 47,000 in FY21.

According to the Bepza officials, defying the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bepza has done a tough job of recovering employment after the pandemic situation.

Chittagong EPZ created an opportunity for 19,111 Bangladeshi nationals while Dhaka EPZ created 10,451, Adamjee EPZ 9,924, Comilla EPZ 9,792, Karnaphuli EPZ 7,319, Ishwardi EPZ 3,002, Uttara EPZ 2,599, and Mongla EPZ 1,962.

As of June 2022, the cumulative employment of the EPZs stands at 5,02,365.

Regarding the overall performance, Major General Abul Kalam Mohammad Ziaur Rahman, executive chairman of the Bepza, said that the factors behind the growth are visionary and investment-friendly policies and incentives of the government under the leadership of the Prime Minister.

Moreover, the efficiency and dedication of the Bepza, and ease of doing business inside the EPZs also played a vital role.

“We are trying to make every EPZs investment, labour, and environment friendly,” he said, adding that the people of the country are hard-working and adaptive.

He also said that they always prefer the companies which will create more employment opportunities for the local people.

Industry diversification

Bepza executive chairman said that there are 451 industrial establishments in eight EPZs. Among them, 149 are RMG factories.

“We are focusing on diversification by emphasizing on establishing high-end, technology-oriented industries,” he said.

Products like automobile parts, electronic parts, mobile parts and medical equipment are now being manufactured in EPZs.

“We are now encouraging investment in medical equipment and medical industries,” he further said.

As the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is very close, Bepza encourages establishing industries related to computers, robotics, AI, automation etc.

Future prospects

All EPZs will be technology-dependent, automated, digitized and system-based and integrate everything, including customs and banks, with this system and establish a one-stop service (OSS), Abul Kalam Mohammad Ziaur Rahman said.

“We will bring the Water Treatment Plant (WTP), Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) of every EPZs under more modern technology,” he added. Bepza is also focusing on renewable energy sourcing.

Bangladesh will graduate from LDC and become a developed country by 2041, riding on industrialization, he added. Bepza also aims to capture the domestic market.

“Industrialization will transform the population from burden to strength and for a sustainable industrialization, product diversification and strong backward linkage sector are must,” he added.

Moreover, by developing ease of doing business and uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity, Bangladesh can achieve its target despite the current global situation, the Bepza executive chairman further said.

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