It's high time to invest in Bangladesh: PM to Chinese businessmen

BSS || Shining BD

Published: 7/9/2024 8:31:01 AM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged the Chinese business community to invest in Bangladesh's main sectors for mutual benefits taking the advantages of the world's most liberal investment regimes.

"It is time to invest in Bangladesh, and I am confident that with our hands joined, together we can achieve great things," she said while addressing a Summit on "Trade, Business and Investment Opportunities between Bangladesh and China" here.

The prime minister encouraged the Chinese business community to consider key sectors in Bangladesh, saying, "We welcome investments in our infrastructure, energy, and logistics sectors". 

Joining the summit on the second day of her four-day bilateral visit to China, she has urged the Chinese entrepreneurs, and investors to invest in larger volumes in Bangladesh's potential sectors ICT, tourism, agro-processing industries and development sectors.

The summit was organised by the Embassy of Bangladesh in Beijing, BIDA, BSEC and CCPIT at China World Summit Wing, Shangri-La Circle, Beijing.

"We believe there is significant potential for Chinese investment, particularly in the energy sector, including renewable energy," she said.

She also said that climate-resilient smart farming opens opportunities for collaboration in agro-processing industries, with buy-back arrangements with China.

She went on saying that they plan to establish three special tourism zones where China can invest in the real estate and hospitality sectors.

"I also urge Chinese investors to explore portfolio investments in Bangladesh," she added.

The premier said the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission is actively working to further develop its capital markets aimed at making them more attractive to foreign investors.

"We have made significant progress in developing a robust bond market. We are on the brink of introducing derivative products, which will further diversify and widen our financial markets," she said.

Mentioning that Bangladesh is embracing the digital age with open arms, she said her government is actively promoting the growth of the ICT sector, offering incentives for startups, investing in tech parks, and fostering an ecosystem that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.

"Our young entrepreneurs are making their mark on the global stage, and we invite you to be a part of this exciting journey," she said.

"We offer numerous opportunities in renewable energy, waste management, and green technologies," she added.

In the summit, 16 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) have been exchanged between several companies of Bangladesh and China.

Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Li Fei, Chairman of China Communications Construction Group Company Ltd Wang Tongzhou, President and CEO of HSBC China Mark Wang, Senior Vice President of Huawei Simon Lin, Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen, Bangladesh Ambassador to China Md Jashim Uddin and Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Lokman Hossain Miah spoke on the occasion.

Chairman of Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission Prof Shibli Rubayat-Ul Islam delivered the welcome speech.

Several hundred business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs from Bangladesh and China joined the summit.

Elaborating the logic to invest in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said the country is situated in an important geo-strategic location with direct connectivity to all major international trading and shipment routes.

"We are also at the crossroads of the South Asian, Southeast Asian, and East Asian growth circuits. Our seaports, airports, and land routes are being continuously upgraded to meet international standards, ensuring efficient and seamless logistics," she said.

She also said that Bangladesh's huge domestic market and the markets that are adjacent to it hold endless opportunities for the entire region.

As investors, she said, "You will discover that Bangladesh is committed to ensuring your business operations are profitable".

The premier said Bangladesh offers one of the most liberal investment regimes in the world.

The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) provides a number of services to foreign investors under one roof, she said.

She added that Bangladesh is establishing 100 Special Economic Zones (SEZs), each equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

Additionally, the premier said Bangladesh is developing five country-specific Economic Zones to foster closer economic ties with key partner nations.

Moreover, the government has undertaken significant measures to enhance the ease of doing business, she said.

She continued that the government has embarked on a series of reforms to create a more business-friendly atmosphere and offer a secure and predictable environment for investors.

She said they have enacted necessary legislation, simplified steps, and procedures, ensured transparency, and improved infrastructure to facilitate smoother and more efficient business operations.

"Our aim is to position Bangladesh as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world," she added.

Bangladesh has, therefore, formulated a maiden logistics policy to achieve sustainable economic growth by increasing domestic and international trade and investment capacity through the construction of a world-class technology-based, time and cost efficient, and environmentally friendly logistics system, she continued.

The policy emphasises encouraging private sector investment for infrastructure development of roadways, railways, and seaports through public-private partnerships, she opined.

She went on saying that they are also making significant investments in both digital and physical infrastructures to turn Bangladesh into a vibrant logistics hub with connectivity in the region and beyond.

"To demonstrate our objective, we proceeded and completed mega-projects, such as the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, the Karnaphuli River Tunnel, the Matarbari Deep Sea Port, the expanded Third Terminal at Dhaka International Airport, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, and the Dhaka Metro-Rail system," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said they have also achieved nationwide coverage of electricity and internet access.

Bangladesh's first communication satellite, Bangabandhu-I has opened new frontiers in technological advancement, she said.

Notably, Bangladesh has a large pool of skilled workers available at competitive wages, she added.

Moreover, she said Bangladesh has the world's second-largest community of registered IT freelancers.

"We have made significant strides in developing our telecommunications infrastructure, reaching out to even the farthest areas," she said.

The premier said they are progressively establishing 38 high-tech parks, inviting foreign investment in some promising sectors.

"Our vision is to build a 'Smart Bangladesh' by 2041," she said.

One of Bangladesh's greatest assets is its young and dynamic workforce, she added.

With a median age of around 27 years, Bangladesh's population is characterised by energy, dedication, sincerity, and a strong work ethic, she continued.

"We are continuously working to enhance the capabilities of our workforce through vocational training and higher education initiatives. Our youths are gearing up to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution," she said.

Thus, investing in Bangladesh means gaining access to a large pool of skilled and semi-skilled labour, which is both cost-effective and capable, she added.

The premier said China is our largest partner, with trade volumes increasing year by year.

However, there remains immense potential to further expand our trade ties, she said.

"We are committed to addressing trade imbalances and creating a more equitable trade relationship," she said.

Bangladesh is keen to export more products to China, such as textiles, garments, leather goods, jute products, and agricultural produce, she added.

"We welcome Chinese investments in our export-oriented industries, which will help us diversify our export basket and reduce trade deficits," she remarked.

To enhance business cooperation, she said Bangladesh encourages Chinese companies to form joint ventures with Bangladeshi firms.

This collaboration will facilitate technology transfer, skill development, and market access for both parties, she said.

She came up with the opinion that investment in research and development is crucial for fostering innovation and competitiveness.

"We invite Chinese companies to establish R&D centres in Bangladesh, leveraging our skilled workforce and academic ingenuity," she said.

"As we look to the future, the partnership between Bangladesh and China holds unbound promise. Our shared vision for economic growth, technological advancement, and sustainable development forms the cornerstone of our bilateral relations," she said.

The prime minister said together, the two countries can create a prosperous future that benefits both our countries and people.

"Let us work together to build a stronger, more prosperous, and more connected world," she said.

Appreciating the interest of the Chinese business community in exploring the opportunities for business and investment in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said, "This event reveals the strong and enduring friendship between Bangladesh and China."

Bangladesh and China have a long tradition of bilateral cooperation and mutual support, she said.

"China has been significantly contributing to our infrastructure projects, technological advancements, and overall growth of our economy," she added.

She mentioned that it is time for Bangladesh and China to explore new areas of further collaboration in trade and investment.

The premier told the Chinese business community that Bangladesh is one of very few economies that have continued to grow during the pandemic.

The country is now set to graduate from the UN's Least Developed Countries in 2026, she continued.

This transition showcases Bangladesh's resilience and ability to overcome challenges, she said.

Over the past one and half decades, Bangladesh has achieved steady economic growth, averaging 6.7 percent, she told the summit.

She also said that Bangladesh has expanded its economy from US$ 102 billion in 2009 to over US$ 460 billion in 2023.

Just before the pandemic, its economy reached a growth rate of 8.15 percent, she said.

Bangladesh's per capita income has now reached USD 2,784, a 5-fold increase over the past two decades and its export volume has surpassed the $50 billion mark, and it received net FDI of $2.8 billion in 2022, she added.

She said that Bangladesh is among the world's top remittance-earning countries and is now the world's 33rd largest economy.

The world's renowned think tanks projected that Bangladesh could become the 24th largest economy by the first half of the 2030s, she informed.

"My government is closely collaborating with the private sector to realise this goal," she said.

Shining BD