Foreign investments

Bangladesh makes strong case for foreign investment in ‘Asian economic powerhouse’

Abu Dhabi – Salman Fazlur Rahman, Member of Parliament and Investment Advisor to Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wajed is visiting Abu Dhabi to promote business and trade opportunities in South Asia’s fastest growing economy South.

Rahman is also co-founder and vice-chairman of BEXIMCO Group, one of the largest private conglomerates in Bangladesh.

Data shows that Bangladesh is the new Asian tiger on the lines of Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand in the 1990s, when the young country, born in 1971, was trying to find ground under his feet while fighting. against a military dictatorship and establish a vibrant democracy.

The Indian subcontinent’s new economic powerhouse recently opened the longest bridge over the mighty Padma (Ganges) River – one of the most challenging infrastructure projects in the region.

Phase 1 of Dhaka Metro Rail, which will be open by the end of the year, promises to change the way people travel in one of the most congested cities in the world. Besides, a large tunnel will connect the two sides of Chittagong, which will further boost the economy of the port city.

Khaleej times spoke with Rahman on the sidelines of a seminar on economic cooperation between Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates, held in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, to get an idea of ​​the scope of Dhaka’s investments in the country and in the wider region.

Bangladesh, which has 144,770 square kilometers of landmass, is smaller than the US state of Florida but is home to around 168 million people, half of the US population. It is also a weather-hit country, prone to the fury of monsoon floods and natural disasters every year. We have overcome these challenges to emerge as a leading destination in South Asia for foreign investment.

Our greatest asset is our human resources. One of our greatest challenges has been to empower and convert the vast population of 168 million people into human talent, which we have been able to achieve over the past 14 years under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the architect of a modern and dynamic Bangladesh.

From women in rural areas to the underprivileged scattered across the country, people are empowered and are now part of the production process. About four million workers, 90 percent of whom are women, bring in about $42.6 billion (156.47 Dh) in foreign exchange through the export of ready-made garments.

Our Prime Minister has ensured political, economic and social stability and pulled Bangladesh out of a number of crises, including the global economic crisis of 2008-2009 and the recent Covid-19 pandemic, to maintain robust economic growth. Our gross domestic product (GDP) has remained consistently above 6% for the past 14 years, except in 2020 when it fell to 5.3% due to the pandemic.

As Bangladesh accelerates its infrastructure development to accelerate its economic growth, we need foreign investment such as building partnerships with friendly countries and large multinational corporations (MNCs).

I am traveling to the United Arab Emirates to invite local businesses, investors and development partners to be part of our growth story. Come and invest in Bangladesh and take advantage of the opportunities we offer you.

According to the World Investment Report, FDI reached a three-year high in the last fiscal year, making it the second most popular destination in South Asia after India. FDI increased by 13% to reach 2.9 billion dollars (10.65 Dh) during the financial year 2021-2022, against 2.5 billion dollars (9.18 Dh) the previous year, according to the report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). This year.

With the entries of 2021-2022, our stock of FDI increased to 21.5 billion dollars (78.97 Dh). However, this is not enough. We need greater investment flows to help us grow our economy faster.

We engage with our key allies and the investment community and make our case, highlighting opportunities, the favorable investment climate, giving them realistic return on investment (RoI) projections and addressing their concerns, the optionally.

We started organizing road shows in key markets, such as United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA), etc. As a result, awareness has been raised and the flow of investment is increasing.

One of the ongoing areas is to forge strategic and comprehensive economic partnerships with our key allies and create a win-win situation for all of our partners. These involve government-to-government and government-to-private sector dialogues.

UAE investment in Bangladesh has not been very high, although many local companies are planning to invest in the country. What are your plans for leveraging these investments? RAK Ceramics, one of the leading companies in the United Arab Emirates, has invested in Bangladesh. It is a good example. It shows how investments in Bangladesh have contributed to RAK Ceramic’s bottom line. Some important developments are taking place in the development of economic relations with the United Arab Emirates, and you will hear the news at the right time. This year, two UAE-based private companies – Malabar Gold and Diamonds and Danube Home – announced their foray into Bangladesh through strategic partnerships.

Saif Powertec, a Bangladeshi conglomerate, will operate direct shipping services between Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates, which will further boost bilateral trade and investment between the two countries. However, the potential is quite high, and I admit that we have not yet reached its peak.

Yes, we are definitely looking at those areas. However, we need to develop a broad asset base for sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) to invest in. Investments by sovereign wealth funds take time to materialize. We build our capital markets for sovereign wealth funds to invest in lucrative equities such as stocks, bonds and fixed income assets. Once our asset base improves further, sovereign wealth funds will invest in it.

We have had a series of discussions with a number of UAE-based port and free zone operators and logistics providers to consider investing in Bangladesh. These talks are ongoing and should materialize soon.

In addition to the capital market, they could invest in technology, start-ups, small cottage industries, food processing, fintech companies, e-commerce companies, agribusiness start-ups, etc.

Ours is an investment-friendly country with a pro-investment regime in power. Bangladesh has relaxed its investment policies to attract foreign investment. Apart from the five to ten year tax holiday offered to foreign investors, Bangladesh allows full repatriation of capital and profits, also providing a higher return on investment.

Through investments in a number of new industries, such as e-commerce, start-ups, etc.

I think there is a negative perception of Bangladesh and a lack of understanding of the economy of our country.

How easy is it to do business since the ranking was 168 out of 190 in 2019?

We are doing well, although the World Bank has unfortunately stopped publishing the Doing Business report. Had he continued, the report would have shown that Bangladesh did much better in its international rankings.

Investing in the equity market can boost liquidity in the local capital market as well as the national economy in several ways and we look at these areas. The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has organized several investment conferences in global cities such as Dubai, Singapore, London, New York and San Francisco to boost investment in our capital markets.

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