In an exclusive interview with Barrister Omar Sadat, president of the Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI) Dhaka Tribune’s Ibrahim Hossain Ovi and Niaz Mahmud speaks to him about factors hindering Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Bangladesh and the kind of policy that will help encourage FDI
For the budget to be announced June 7,what steps should the government take to attract FDI?
The present tax structure is not business-friendly—with Bangladesh tax rates higher than in other countries where German businesses invest. With a reasonable tax rate, investment will increase, there will be more return on investment, and employment will be generated.
The government should maintain an income tax rebate for foreign investors.
Bangladesh is no longer a country of flood or famine and surpasses Pakistan and India on social indicators such as health, life expectancy, and other issues. Bangladesh is now the most progressive country in South Asia and those who have come to do business here have become successful.
To attract investment we have to build our image by marketing positive aspects of our business environment.
As a president of BGCCI, what is your plan to increase bilateral trade between Germany and Bangladesh?
BGCCI is working closely with German business people to improve bilateral trade relations. We are arranging business-to-business talks to identify business opportunities and hope this will increase bilateral trade and commerce between Bangladesh and Germany.
I think, there will be no scarcity of investors if the government pays heed to business people’s demands.
In this regard, the government should remove barriers and ensure services through a one-stop, quick service.
What should Bangladesh’s government offer, in the budget, to attract German investment?
A good number of German companies come to us, wanting to invest in Bangladesh, but they do not get access to land or an energy supply. An instant supply of gas, electricity, and utility services upon investment would attract investors. Meanwhile, the government has to ensure land on which to establish factories.
How can Bangladesh increase its exports to Germany— the largest importer of Bangladesh’s products?
Bangladesh has a wide range of exportable products. We have to take two initiatives such as holding a trade fair in Germany every year, and setting up a research wing in Bangladesh to identify the needs of business-people. BGCCI is also working on business matching.
We are also mulling over working with Messe Frankfurt, the world’s largest trade fair, to display products to increase export earnings.
How can Bangladeshi business-people receive help from German businessmen to upgrade technology?
Joint venture investment is essential to share knowledge and experience. Joint ventures will create an opportunity for Bangladesh. Germany is very popular for its quality technology—working with German business people will help Bangladesh upgrade its technology and learn technical expertise.