Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said here on Wednesday that the government is putting in efforts to turn Bangladesh into an important manufacturing hub in Asia and urged the countries, including China, to avail themselves of the massive investment opportunities.

“Bangladesh is now considered as a miracle of development. It has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” he told global audience at the inaugural ceremony of a grand trade and investment fair.

China wants to impress the world with a practical move to serve and integrate into the ‘Belt and Road’ through the 2019 South and Southeast Asia Commodity Expo and Investment Fair (SSACEIF). The mega expo will continue till June 18.

The Commerce Minister said the foreign investors can take the advantage of investment in Bangladesh in a number of sectors like shipbuilding, agro-processing, ICT, infrastructure development and tourism.

The minister expressed happiness saying SSACEIF is attracting ever greater attention to South and Southeast Asia.

“This grand expo is providing a huge platform to the private businesses investment opportunities. We hope it’ll contribute meaningfully to bring the peoples and economies of these regions closer,” said Minister Tipu Munshi.

He said Bangladesh exported US$ 41 billion worth of goods and services in 2018 and has planned to raise it to $60 billion by 2021.

To achieve the goals, the Commerce Minister said, the government is setting up 100 economic zones across the country.

He said Bangladesh is setting up one special economic zone – Chinese Industrial Economic Zone – for Chinese investors in Chattogram.

The mega exposition, being held at the Kunming Dianchi Lake International Convention and Exhibition Center, is featuring 17 pavilions and 7,500 booths, including the Belt and Road Investment and Cooperation pavilion, the green energy pavilion and the forest ecological products pavilion on a total exhibition area of 170,000 square metres.

The BRI and Cooperation Pavilion aims to build an efficient communication platform for investors, and comprehensively demonstrate Yunnan’s advantages in terms of opening up, development and opportunities under the BRI.

India is occupying the largest number of booths 240, demonstrating growing engagement between China and India on trade and investment front. Bangladesh set 19 stalls in the fair.

About 600 billion yuan of projects are expected to be signed at the fair this year with about 2.6 billion yuan foreign-fund projects, organisers said.

There are mainly six exhibition areas thematic, Southeast Asia, South Asia, international, domestic and never ending CSA Expo.

For the first time, the BRI Investment Cooperation Pavilion, Green Energy Pavilion, Forest Eco Products Pavilion and the Digital Yunnan Exhibition Area are set up in the fair venue.

Some 3,348 enterprises from 73 countries, regions and international organisations, business leaders, experts and scholars as well as about 167 representatives from ministries and local governments are attending the fair.

The theme of this year’s fair is ‘Gather at the Opening-up Frontier Together, Build the Radiation Center Together and Share Prosperity and Development Together’.

It continues to adopt the theme country and host country mechanism. This year’s theme country is Sri Lanka and the host country is Cambodia.