Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has invited investors from the Commonwealth countries to come to Bangladesh in a bigger way.
“Geographically, Bangladesh is at the centre of a market of three billion people. We have 170 million people of our own. By 2030, the affluent population of Bangladesh will stand at 35 million. So, Bangladesh will become the third largest market globally, after Germany and the United Kingdom,” she said while addressing the two-day “Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum Bangladesh 2023” after inaugurating the event at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital yesterday, reports UNB.
Bangladesh is hosting the Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum for the first time.
The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, which is the Commonwealth’s accredited business network, the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Zi Foundation, a family-run foundation that offers support to vulnerable people, jointly organised the event.
The Forum aims to promote innovation, trade, investment and economic growth, enhance partnerships and explore ways towards sustainable and inclusive economic development for Bangladesh.
“We need more high-quality and sustainable investment to accelerate the economic progress of Bangladesh,” she said.
She mentioned that as a prerequisite for investment promotion, her government has prioritised organisational reforms, the formation of Bida and the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza), which offers attractive facilities for investors and ensures post-investment services.
Sheikh Hasina said almost all sectors are open for investment in Bangladesh. But among those, more investment is encouraged in agricultural goods and food processing, leather and leather goods processing, medical equipment, automobiles and shipbuilding, and ICT.
“There are promising investment facilities in these sectors, including the easy process of taking back dividends or benefits to your home country,” she said.
The premier said some 70% of Bangladesh’s foreign direct investment comes from reinvestment, which is proof of the excellent investment environment that Bangladesh offers to investors.
Mentioning that the prerequisite for investment is the development of infrastructure, she said that the government has established 100 economic zones, 109 hi-tech and software technology parks, and IT training and incubation centres across the country with attractive incentive packages to promote foreign investors.
“We are developing our land, rail, and air connectivity. Almost all highways in the country have been elevated to four or more lanes,” she said.
In this connection, she said that the Padma Bridge has connected 21 southwestern districts of Bangladesh directly with Dhaka and other parts of the country.
She said that soon the government will inaugurate the Karnaphuli underwater tunnel, the first such infrastructure not only in Bangladesh but in South Asia. “Work on establishing a rail link between Chattogram and tourist Cox’s Bazar is progressing fast.”
“A democratic environment, political stability, continuity of government, and, above all, structured development programs have helped in the quick socio-economic development of Bangladesh,” she stated.
Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Executive Chairman of Bida Lokman Hossain Miah, Strategic Advisor (Bangladesh) of Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) Zillur Hussain and CWEIC Chairman Lord Marland also spoke at the programme.
PM Hasina also handed over the Commonwealth Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Green Investment Award to EcoBricks from Uganda.
The organisers said more than 300 international delegates including 13 ministers from Commonwealth countries are participating in the two-day conference.
Bangladesh ready for FDI: Salman F Rahman
Later on the day, at an international seminar held on the occasion of the Commonwealth summit at the InterContinental Hotel in Dhaka, Salman F Rahman, a top policymaker of the government, said Bangladesh is ready to facilitate special policy support for Commonwealth economies to fetch more foreign direct investment (FDI).
BBC Broadcaster Tanya Beckett moderated the session.
“Bangladesh is a well-positioned country among the Global South economies. Besides, the Bay of Bengal is emerging as a critical region in the competition for control of sea lanes and global trade. Economies under the umbrella of the Commonwealth can leverage the opportunities for trade or setting manufacturing units,” Salman F Rahman said.
Salman said Bangladesh’s strategic location at the apex of the Bay of Bengal brings significant responsibilities as a facilitator and connector between regions and competing powers.
“The Padma Bridge, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Deep Sea Port, Payra Sea Port — all are testament to our nation’s ability to undertake and complete ambitious infrastructure projects. That is to enhance our regional connectivity and improve transportation networks,” he said.
In an opening remark at the seminar, CWEIC Chairman Lord Marland said, “Bangladesh has proven its excellence in apparel export in the world. Countries under the Commonwealth platform can follow the best practices in the sectors. We want to connect every dot of possibilities through the Commonwealth, home to 2.5 billion people and includes both advanced economies and developing countries.”
Salman F Rahman urged the Commonwealth countries to invest in agro-processing, man-made fibre garment, circular economy, ICT, leather, furniture, electric vehicles and technology sectors.
“We are providing various benefits for the investors. We have improved the infrastructure and solved the electricity problem. Besides, we have already invested heavily in road, rail and port infrastructure. The prime minister has already taken initiatives for free trade with various countries. Hence, all investment opportunities exist in this country,” Salman said.
Unilever Bangladesh President Zaved Akhtar said Bangladesh has political stability and a conducive environment for investment. Long-term policies are required to attract investment.
British International Investment Managing Director Srini Nagarajan said, “Bangladesh has to make a Business Integrated Action Plan to attract foreign investment. Long-term sustainable investment requires ensuring zero carbon emissions, women’s equality, community development and good governance.”
Tipu Munshi stresses on FTA among Commonwealth countries
In another session titled “The global economy: Breaking down barriers to trade”, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi emphasised signing free trade agreements (FTAs) to further increase trade among Commonwealth countries.
“I strongly believe that like the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, greater collaboration among other Commonwealth countries can enhance trade facilitation and economic cooperation,” he said.
Sri Lankan State Minister for Investment Promotion Hon Dilum S Amunugama, Finance Minister of Cameroon Louis Paul Motaze and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Dominica Dr Vince Henderson also spoke at the seminar.
“I believe that Commonwealth member countries tend to trade more easily and at lower costs with each other due to shared language, legal systems, and other historical ties. Leveraging this advantage could lead to more effective trade facilitation within the Commonwealth countries” Munshi said.
The commerce minister also highlighted some of the existing trade barriers between the Commonwealth countries and urged all to work together to eliminate them.
He also said, “The digital economy is growing and many Commonwealth countries are exploring opportunities in e-commerce and digital trade. Collaborative efforts within the Commonwealth can focus on enabling digital trade facilitation, including harmonising regulations, improving cross-border infrastructure, and addressing cybersecurity concerns.”
Tipu Munshi also called for simpler regulations and regulatory harmonisation among the Commonwealth Countries in order to ease the movement of cargo.
Source : TBS News