DHAKA -- Less developed nations in Southeast and South Asia want foreign companies to come in and help their economies catch up with more advanced rivals.
Bangladesh is promoting the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt plan, under which it aims to develop a roughly 400km belt of land from Dhaka to Matarbari in the south, near the border with Myanmar. The belt will also cover Chittagong, the country's principal port.
A state-of-the-art thermal power plant in Matarbari will be constructed for 450 billion yen ($4.39 billion) if all goes to plan. Port facilities will also be expanded so that cargo-carrying vessels can berth. Dhaka plans to raise 600 billion yen in development funds for the projects through a loan from Tokyo over the next five years.
Myanmar is currently developing its first large industrial estate in Thilawa, near Yangon, with public-private assistance from Japan.
Earlier this year, the government of the Southeast Asian country lifted the ban on exports and imports of goods from foreign companies that operate on the estate. Myanmar bans imports and exports by foreign businesses in principle.
Meanwhile, Laos is mulling setting up the third special economic zone for manufacturers in southern Pakse to attract businesses considering relocating from neighboring Thailand to take advantage of lower labor costs.
Japanese companies including Nikon and Toyota Boshoku have already moved into Laos' special economic zone in southern Savannakhet. The country hopes to receive investment of $7 billion to $8 billion in total from foreign players by 2020.
Cambodia is also developing multiple industrial estates in northwestern city of Poipet near Thailand.