The Financial Express

Competitive investment climate and policy package needed  

| Updated: December 02, 2021 21:40:09

Competitive investment climate and policy package needed   

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her inaugural address to the two-day International Investment Summit 2021 on Sunday adeptly pointed out to the global businesses where exactly to invest in Bangladesh. Admittedly, it has been a very business-like approach to identify the sectors, some 11 in number, to the willing entrepreneurs from abroad to choose from. However, Bangladesh has long been wooing foreign investors and has taken different policy measures from time to time to create an environment congenial to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Creation of Export Processing Zones (EPZs), for example, has obviously been one such step. In a similar vein, the ongoing move to develop some 100 Economic Zones (EZs) have come up with significant response from investors. As reported in the Monday issue of this paper, more than 100 investment proposals worth US$6.25 have already been made by foreign and local entrepreneurs eager to invest in the EZs. It clearly shows that the government's efforts so far to invite foreign investment have been well-received by some businesses at home and abroad. But considering the volume of the investment so proposed, it cannot be still said that the country has become a chosen destination for overseas entrepreneurs.

 Even so, Bangladesh cannot wait. It is for the simple reason that the country is soon to join the club of the Middle Income Economies (MIEs). In that case, the government will be required to redouble its efforts to garner foreign investments to meet its target of graduating to an MIE by 2026. So, there is no room for complacency seeing that some foreign investors have expressed their interest in doing business here. In fact, our competitors are also around and have been offering their best opportunities available to the prospective investors. And it is exactly here that the real challenge lies. No doubt, the EPZs and EZs provided with uninterrupted utility services and other facilities have meanwhile demonstrated their worth. The ongoing work on mega physical infrastructure projects including the Padma Bridge, Chattogram-Cox's Bazar rail link, the Payra Seaport and the Dhaka metro rail project are, of course, indicative of the country's increasing potential as an investment destination. Meanwhile, the pandemic has undeniably negatively impacted the pace of ongoing infrastructure development work. Bangladesh needs to rise to this new challenge, too. At the same time, the pandemic has caused to restructure global supply chains. Also, the global value chains have been undergoing rapid changes due to technological shifts in the production of goods and services.

Economies, including Bangladesh, looking to enhance their potential as destinations of foreign investment have to be responsive to these changes. Hopefully, the government is aware of these developments and its policies focused on attracting foreign investment reflect that. In this context, the physical and other infrastructures as mentioned in the government's list of potential sectors for investment merit special attention. So should also the various other areas including the capital market, financial services, information technology, blue economy, etc., as noted in the government's selected sectors for foreign investment. Perhaps, Bangladesh's competitors in the South and Southeast Asia are not lagging behind in this regard. In that event, Bangladesh would be required not just to match, but also to excel in certain areas vis-à-vis its competitors to impress foreign investors. A favourable investment climate with flexible and responsive polices are obviously the best offer Bangladesh can make to its potential foreign investors.


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