Business & Finance News

Monday, August 02, 2004

Compiled by SDNP

Head Lines

Social barriers discourage women entrepreneurs
Workshop in Chittagong told

Rokia Afzal Rahman (right), president of Women Entrepreneurs' Association (WEA), Bangladesh addresses the inauguration of a workshop titled 'Women's Empowerment and Advancement by Learning and Training Herself (WEALTH)' jointly organised by WEA and Chittagong Women Entrepreneurs in Chittagong yesterday.

It is social barrier, not the religious one, which discourages women from getting involved in business activities, speakers observed at the inaugural session of a workshop on women entrepreneurship in the port city yesterday.

Women Entrepreneurs' Asso-ciation (WEA), Bangladesh and Chittagong Women Entrepreneurs (CWE) jointly organised the 11-day workshop, which was inaugurated by former advisor to the caretaker government Rokia Afzal Rahman.

Entrepreneurship helps women become self-reliant and contribute greatly to economic advancement, the discussants told the workshop titled "Women's Empowerment and Advancement by Learning and Training Herself (WEALTH)."

Fair & Lovely Foundation of Lever Brothers Bangladesh Limited is sponsoring the event to offer women entrepreneurs training on development and management of small business and product development, particularly preparation of confectionery items.

Rokia, also president of WEA, Bangladesh, emphasised women's empowerment and said there was no religious barrier to the empowerment of women who could rather come up with such ventures upholding the religious tradition.

Rokia called upon women entrepreneurs to come forward to encourage others in getting involved in business, which she termed a "respectable job" that contributes to economic emancipation of the country.

Nawab Uddin, editor of Janamat, Britain's first and popular Bengali weekly, in his speech lauded the activities of WEA and CWE in promoting women entrepreneurs and assured them of help in marketing their products in the UK market.

CWE President Monowara Hakim Ali chaired the inaugural session.

Rafiq Sarker, GM (business) of Agro-based Industries Technology and Development Project, Islamic thinker Runu Siddiqui, WEA Bangladesh General Secretary Rubina Hossain Faruq and CWE Senior Vice-President Khaleda Awal also spoke at the ceremony.

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Business promotion council for herbal medicine sector on cards

In a bid to give a boost to export of herbal medicines and plants, the government is going to set up a business promotion council exclusively for the sector.

The move came in view of the vast potential of the sector, which has already started contributing to the export earning, sources at the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) said.

EPB holds a meeting in Dhaka today to discuss the potential of the sector and form the council comprising both government and private sector representatives.

"At the meeting, we'll identify potential manufacturers of herbal medicines and growers of herbal plants," EPB Director Towfique Khan Majles told The Daily Star yesterday.

The meeting will be attended by government officials, academics and representatives of trade bodies related to the sector. They will also discuss the draft of a memorandum of articles for the proposed promotion council.

EPB Director General Mostofa Mohiuddin will preside over the meeting, which will also select different government and association offices to enlist them as members of the council.

Majles said some manufacturers are already exporting herbal medicines. "Potential of herbal medicines is growing rapidly. At present, the global market size of herbal medicine is $62 billion," he added.

He said the climate of Bangladesh is favourable to the production of herbal and medicinal plants.

EPB has already circulated the names of some exportable herbal plants and medicines through its website --

"This will help importers get required information on the exportable items available in Bangladesh as it contains a list of 136 homeopathic medicines, 52 unani and 52 ayurvedic medicines and 48 herbal plants," the EPB official said.

Representatives from Bangladesh Unani and Ayurvedic Board, Bangladesh Homeopathic Board, Bangladesh Homeopathic Unani Ayurvedic Federation, Bangladesh Ayurved Parishad, Bangladesh Homeopathic Medicine Manufacturers Association, Bangladesh Unani Oushudh Shilpa Samity, Bangladesh Nim Foundation House, Bangladesh Homeopathic Medical Association, Bangladesh Unani Ayurvedic Development Society and Bangladesh Unani Ayurvedic Federation will attend the meeting.

According to EPB, the potential herbal plants are ginger, mudar, zingiber, emblic, arjuna, winter cherry, bengale quince and belerica myrobalan.

The names of potential homeopathic medicines are abroma agusta, abroma rad, amloki atista ind, azadirachta indica, aoska jonesia and arjuna.

Potential unani medicines are khamira abreshm arshadi, khamira gauzaban ambari jawwhirdar, jawarish jalinoos, dawaul misk mutadil jawahirdar, majun falasefa and majun lana.

The ayurvedic medicines include jamani arka, jatamangsi arka, dasanga kwath, nimbadi kwath, arjunarist and amritarist.

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China to help develop tourism in Bangladesh

The visiting vice governor of China's Yunan Province, Sao Kui, has promised all-out help to develop Bangladesh's tourism industry.

At a meeting with Chairman Dr Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman and other high officials of Parjatan Corporation Kui discussed mutual tourism issues.

Sao promised that he would discuss with his government the issue of awarding Approved Destination Status (ADS) to Bangladesh. He also said that he would seriously deal with any specific proposal related to the investment in Bangladesh's tourism industry.

Speaking about human resource development in the tourism sector the vice governor said that instructors from the Bangladesh National Hotel and Tourism and Training Institute would be trained in different training institutes in Yunan. He expressed his satisfaction at Bangladesh's success in tourism and assured comprehensive help in package tours between the two countries.

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Dhaka, Beijing to open road links thru’ Myanmar

The Bangladesh Observer

Bangladesh and China agreed to open a road link between the two countries through Myanmar to ease transportation of goods for further expanding bilateral trade, reports UNB.

The two countries have also decided to swap air flights by their national airlines to boost business and tourist exchanges. 

The road link will connect Bangladesh with China’s southwestern Yunnan province which is the closest in proximity between the two countries.

The decisions were made at meetings between a visiting high-powered delegation from China and Bangladeshi officials in Dhaka on Saturday.

The eight-member Chinese delegation headed by Shao Qiwei, Vice Governor of Yunnan, arrived here earlier in the day to explore ways for opening up communication and expanding bilateral business opportunities.

At a meeting with Commerce Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury at the Secretariat, the two sides discussed on expanding trade and agreed to open the direct road link between Bangladesh and Yunnan province of China, via Myanmar. Construction work on the road link will start during next dry season.

Commerce Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury said direct goods transportation between China and Bangladesh will be quicker after the completion of the road construction within one and a half year.

Besides, the two countries will arrange single-country trade fairs for wider familiarization of their products. Under the Bangkok Agreement, Bangladesh is enjoying duty-free access for 84 of its products into the Chinese market, the Commerce Minister told reporters in a briefing after the meeting.

Shao Qiwei, the leader of the Chinese delegation, pointed out that there is a tremendous scope for expanding business relations between the two countries.  

Adviser to the Commerce Ministry Barkat Ullah Bulu, Commerce Secretary M Aminur Rahman and senior officials of the Ministry were present at the meeting.

China’s newfound interest to cultivate with Bangladesh and other South Asian countries is being pursued in line with Kunming Initiative that brought together Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) to launch an economic cooperation forum in 1999.

Later at a meeting with State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mir M Nasiruddin at Hotel Sheraton, the two sides agreed to negotiate on establishing direct air links between the two countries.

At the meeting, Shao Qiwei proposed four air routes between Bangladesh and China. Mir M Nasiruddin accepted the proposals saying that Civil Aviation Ministries of the two countries and Bangladesh Biman and China’s Eastern Airline will sit soon to discuss and find out an economically viable route.  

Nasiruddin also proposed to Shao for enlisting Bangladesh in its tourist destination list. China Tourism Board has 57 destinations for its tourists. Shao said he would discuss the issue with his Tourism Board.

Last year some 70,000 Chinese tourists visited Bangladesh and the State Minister hoped that the figure will increase soon.

Later, a business delegation of FBCCI led by its President Abdul Awal Minto met with the Chinese delegation at the hotel and discussed ways for boosting trade relations.

Minto said the trade volume between China and Bangladesh increased by 39.2 per cent in last six months and he hoped that future trade between the two countries would multiply.

During the meeting, emphasise was given on a regular liaison between FBCCI and Yunnan’s business bodies and participation of businessmen at trade fairs to be held in the two countries.      

 “In our aspiration to attain a regional win-win environment, we must take into account the realities and asses the problem areas,” Minto said.

Bangladesh exported goods worth US$ 18.43 million from China against imports worth US$ 574.33 million from that country in 2003-2004 (July-December) showing that bilateral trade is heavily lopsided in favour of Beijing.  

Bangladesh’s major exports to China are: Leather, raw jute, chemical fertilizer, jute manufactures, golf shaft, shrimps, woven garments and other items including camera parts, frozen fish, footwear, knitwear, textile fabrics, vegetables, home textile, tea in bulk, indicator lamp, cotton waste, dry food and feature films.

China’s major export items to Bangladesh are: textile and textile articles, machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, parts, base metals, vehicles, aircraft vessels and associated transport equipment, plastic, rubber, vegetable products, optical, photographic, medical, surgical equipment, mineral products, stone, plaster, ceramic products and arms and ammunitions

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