Bangladesh has received a record amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2018 with China being the leading investor in the country.
The United States, which is traditionally the top investor, was the fourth highest investor in 2018, with $174 million worth of FDI.
Briefing the media on Thursday, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Kazi M Aminul Islam said, the $3.6 billion FDI in 2018 was 68 per cent more than the previous year, reports bdnews24.com.
“This is a record,” he said, “If the trend continues, we hope the FDI figures will touch double digits in 2021”.
Bangladesh is traditionally a low FDI-attracting country. The FDI was less than 100 million even in 1996 when the ruling Awami League first came to power.
“It became more than half a billion in its five years,” the BIDA chairman, Islam, said.
“Then again it fell. It hit the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2008, following investment in the telecom sector. The FDI crossed that figure again in 2011 under the Awami Legaue government and has gradually increased ever since.”
“We saw a slight decline in 2017 - $2.1 billion - compared to 2016 due to a 23 per bcent decline in overall investments globally.”
The net FDI was recorded at $3.6 billion in 2018 as equity investment and reinvestment doubled from the previous year while intra-company loans increased by four times.
Describing the significance of the development, the executive chairman said, “It means confidence, it means they (foreign investors) are very comfortable about investing here now more than before.”
In 2018, Bangladesh was the recipient of a different type of investment in the form of mergers and acquisitions, he added. But the figures did not account for the investment made by Japan Tobacco which is not included.
“If we add that $1.4 billion, then FDI figure will go up to $5 billion”.
BIDA MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
The BIDA executive chairman credits the FDI growth to economic stability, political stability, controlling inflation along with a young and talented workforce.
“It’s very clear to foreign investors that the Bangladeshi economy is expanding from within while integrating with the rest of the world at the same time.”
“BIDA had a big role in this,” he said, referring to the creation of BIDA two years ago through the merger of the Board of Investment and Privatisation Commission.
Prior to the advent of BIDA, between 2009 and 2016, the average annual proposal for investments was Tk193 billion. But since its inception, the figure has soared to Tk 945 billion per year.
He said that the investment body us implementing the One Stop Service (OSS) Act. “We have already started online OSS for BIDA and registered joint stock company services. Fifteen BIDA services were already offered online through the OSS and we are starting another seven services. So we are making 22 services available under the OSS.”
“As a result, we are seeing an upward trend and in future, it will rise further,” he said.
Chinese investment totalled $1.03 billion in 2018 with the bulk of it - $834 million - coming in the power sector. In 2017, China invested only $119 million in the country.
But US investments only saw a marginal increase, rising to $174 million from $166 million in 2017.
Islam attributes this to the US administration’s policy of massive tax cuts for internal investments. The US’s investment has declined globally as a result.
On the contrary, China is investing in the region under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which Bangladesh joined in 2016 during President Xi Jinping’s visit.
The major overall investments in 2018 came in the power sector followed by food, agriculture and fishing, textile and garment, banking, telecom and gas and petroleum sectors.
“We are presenting Bangladesh’s possibilities in a focused way. We have targeted some specific countries such as Japan, Germany, India, UK and US for future investment. We have targeted some big companies for investment,” he added.
“We hope to give you good news soon about an investment which can transform Bangladesh.”
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