Bangladesh Cards Ltd, a joint venture between Japanese, Australian and Bangladeshi investors, will invest $ 100 million in a local high-tech park to manufacture high-end tech products, including smart cards and specialized security items, to meet domestic growth and international markets.

Seven acres of land have recently been allocated for the project in the high-tech town of Bangabandhu in Kaliakair, Gazipur, where a five lakh square foot manufacturing center will be set up. The company aims to build the plant in accordance with the guidelines of the US Green Building Council in order to achieve green building certification.

“We will manufacture all types of smart cards, such as bank cards, national ID cards and driver’s licenses,” Abu Sarwar, managing director of Bangladesh Cards, told the Daily Star.

The company, which is owned by a majority of Bangladeshi investors, also wants to be certified to manufacture ePassports to supply to governments in various countries.

The company plans to invest the money over the next five years.

“This investment will give Bangladesh self-reliance as an alternative to importing ICT-related products. After meeting the local demand, we will also export Bangladeshi products to the international market, ”Sarwar said.

“In the short term, we want to reduce the dependence on imports for these products by 50% and in the long term, we want local manufacturing to completely cover imports,” he added.

The move comes at a time when Bangladesh has set a target of exporting $ 5 billion in IT services and digital devices by 2025, up from around $ 1.1 billion today.

In recent months, dozens of companies have invested in high-tech parks, 12 of which are now operational, to manufacture and assemble semiconductors, digital devices, medical equipment, automatic teller machines (ATMs), smartphones, televisions, network devices, security surveillance and other electronic items with generous incentive packages.

Companies that invest in high-tech parks enjoy lucrative tax breaks that include a 10-year tax holiday, duty-free importation of equipment machinery, a tax exemption on foreign expatriate wages and invoices. tax-free utilities while foreign investors can withdraw their investment at any time.

Besides the incentives, another formidable strength of the company is its relationships across the world, according to Sarwar.

“Almost all of the board members of the company are of Bangladeshi descent and have lived abroad and worked for the biggest companies in the world while the chairman of the company is Japanese,” he said. declared.

Most of the technology that will be used in the unit will come from Japan and Australia.

“And since we have a large technology partner in Germany, international standards will be maintained when manufacturing these high-end technology products,” said the managing director.

The company has partnered with foreign companies that own more than 10 factories around the world, some of which manufacture cards while others manufacture passports and driver’s licenses, and everything will be integrated at the factory in Bangladesh, he added.

There are currently around 12,500 ATMs in Bangladesh, but the number is expected to be 35,000 if the total population of the country is taken into account.

“The price of an ATM depends on its functionality and we will offer prices up to 25% lower than imported ATMs,” Sarwar said.

A tax of more than 35 percent is usually levied on the importation of ATMs.

“Thus, we will have a competitive advantage thanks to incentive packages dedicated to local manufacturing,” he added.

Another important segment for the company would be the manufacture of radio frequency identification (RFID) clothing tags.

International buyers are increasingly asking local clothing manufacturers to include RFID tags with their products for better tracking and management.

“And we will be able to capture this large market since local manufacturers mainly depend on imports for these labels,” Sarwar said.

Of the 660 job opportunities created by the project, 400 people will be deployed as skilled technicians and around 99 percent of the employees will be locals trained abroad.

“At least $ 1 billion in imports will be cut once we’re at full capacity,” he added.

Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, Managing Director of Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority, said it is a big investment and will not only support the local market but also diversify the country’s export basket.

So far, 175 companies have received space in high tech parks across the country and 148 local startups have received co-working space / space.

Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority has so far created a skilled workforce of 36,000 in the ICT sector through various training programs considering the demand for manpower in the industry. .

The Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority has also created direct jobs for around 22,000 people in the ICT sector, Ghosh said.

And to ensure the fastest and best service to investors, the authority now provides a total of 148 services through its One-Stop Service portal.

“These services are easy to obtain, take little time and are inexpensive. Among them, 43 services are provided online, ”he said, adding that there will be more than 100 high-tech parks in Bangladesh by 2030.