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PM: Bangladesh’s investment regime most liberal in South Asia

  • Published at 05:49 pm October 3rd, 2019
Sheikh Hasina
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum at Hotel Taj Palace in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, October 3, 2019 Focus Bangla

It is the time for global investors, particularly Indian entrepreneurs, to invest in Bangladesh, she says

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the global investors to invest in different sectors in Bangladesh, describing the country’s environment of investment the most liberal in South Asia,

“It is the time for global investors, particularly Indian entrepreneurs, to invest in Bangladesh in areas like education, light engineering, electronics, automotive industry, artificial Intelligence – beyond the conventional menu,” she said on Thursday.

She made the call while addressing as the chief guest on country strategy dialogue on Bangladesh at the India Economic Summit, organized by the World Economic Forum, at Hotel Taj Palace in New Delhi.

Hasina went on saying: “Today, Bangladesh offers the most liberal investment regime in South Asia – in terms of legal protection of foreign investment, generous fiscal incentives, concession on machinery import, unrestricted exit policy, full repatriation of dividend and capital on exit, for example.”

Spelling out the government measures to attract foreign investment, she said: “We are establishing 100 Special Economic Zones, with one-stop service across Bangladesh. Twelve of the Zones are already functioning.

“Two zones are reserved for Indian investors. A number of hi-tech parks are also ready for technology and innovative enterprises.”

The prime minister gave the credit of massive development to societal values and people’s trust in Bangladesh, and said: “Many see Bangladesh as a market of over 30 million middle and affluent class population and a development miracle.”

“For me, our strengths are the societal values and peoples’ trust in Bangladesh. Equally, peoples’ aspiration to progress and their resilience as well as their confidence in our leadership,” she continued.

As many as 800 representatives from 40 countries are taking part in the two-day summit to be ended on Friday, where the prime minister will address the closing session.

Seamless economic space

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh merits attention of the global and Indian businesses as a seamless economic space.

“We can serve as the economic hub for the sub-region. Beyond our own 162 million people, Bangladesh can be the connecting landmass to a combined market of nearly three billion people,” she added.

Referring to the last year’s HSBC prediction, she said Bangladesh will be the 26th largest economy in the world by 2030.

Noting that Bangladesh offers a stable and humanitarian state, the prime minister said: “That’s coupled with sound macro-economic fundamentals, pragmatic and open economy shall continue to set global trends and examples of a peaceful and progressive nation.”

She said Bangladesh has made the remarkable progress in various sectors following the footsteps of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “His (Bangabandhu’s) vision gives us the confidence to move with our vision to develop Bangladesh as a developing country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041.”

Highlighting Bangladesh’s achievement in various sectors despite various challenges, she said: “We have challenges like many other countries, but we know how to transform challenges into opportunities.”

“This year, our economy posted a record high growth of 8.1%. We are close to achieving double digit growth. Since 2009, Bangladesh economy has grown by 188% in size. Our per capita income is around $2,000,” Hasina added.

Describing Bangladesh as a fast moving country to a high-value, knowledge-intensive society, beyond apparel manufacturing, she said: “Last year, we exported 12 industrial robots to Korea. Four ships made in Bangladesh have come to India.”

She said that the India’s Reliance Group also recently purchased large quantity of refrigerators made in Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh also has six lakh (600,000) IT freelancers – the largest freelancing community. These speak of a quiet transformation where people have taken risks and faced challenges by adapting to innovation and technology.”

A developing Bangladesh

About agriculture, the prime minister said: “Our agriculture is no longer a subsistence one. Beyond self-sufficiency, we are now the fourth largest in rice production, second in jute, fourth in mango, fifth in vegetable production and fourth in inland fisheries, in the world. We are decoding genome of key crops and fruits to move further.”

About transforming the country into a “Digital Bangladesh” since 2009, she said: “We have ensured 100% ICT access for people at the grassroots. Our focus is to employ technology to solve common people’s developmental challenges.”

“As a result, Bangladesh has the fifth largest internet user population in the Asia-Pacific. We are fast moving towards a cashless society. Last year, e-commerce transactions reached $260 million,” she added.

“Bangladesh is urbanizing fast. By 2030, about 48% of our population will live in towns and cities. Most of them will be young, energetic and digitally connected,” Hasina told the summit.

They will be agile, receptive to new ideas and look for new ways of creating wealth, she said.

By 2025, mobile internet penetration will reach 41% population she said and mentioned that over 30 million middle class is “indeed a huge market.”

The WEF leaders, including its President Borge Brende, highly praised Hasina for her leadership in the massive economic development of Bangladesh such as achieving remarkable GDP growth and successful implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.

They also described her as role model of leadership in achieving economic emancipation.

Addressing the event, the prime minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman also highlighted various measures taken by the government to attract more foreign investment.