Global investors should seize endless opportunities in various potential business arenas in a 'New Bangladesh', now emerging through its status change, speakers at an international investors' meet said Sunday.
Terming Bangladesh a rising tiger in Asia and a lucrative investment spot, they said the country has proven its economic strengths in many socioeconomic areas, like manufacture, agriculture and information technology.
As a result, the resilient economy of around 170-million-strong population keeps growing remarkably over the years, even defying all odds caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, economic recessions in Europe and elsewhere.
The strengths, leveraged on prudent policies, high investment on infrastructure development, rising new MAC (Middle and Affluent Class) communities, political and socioeconomic stability, would help the foreign investors grow their business here.
The clarion call came in a plenary session titled 'Investment Competitiveness and Business Environment in Bangladesh, Reaching New Heights in New Normal' held at a city hotel on the first day of the two-day International Investment Summit 2021 hosted by Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA).
BIDA executive chairman Md. Sirazul Islam moderated the session where principal secretary to the Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Kaikaus presented a keynote paper on the topic 'Bangladesh, a story of making impossible possible'.
Mr Kaikaus, in a flashback, noted that, after the independence, Bangladesh saw a sea of turbulence, undemocratic forces and so. "For that the growth of the country was not noticeable."
From 2009, with continuity of leadership, visions, policies and political stability, he said, the hope for economic change was restored.
"Now, we see a new Bangladesh, which is resilient and economically strong," he told the investment-promotion meet.
Soon after the independence, Bangladesh was branded as a basket case but now it becomes 39th-largest economy of the world, 2nd in RMG, 3rd in rice and aquaculture production and 8th-largest remittance-earning economy, according to him.
Terming infrastructure a key for any economy to grow, he said the government is investing heavily on developing physical infrastructures like metro rail, expressways, airport terminal, Matarbari deep-sea port, Bay terminal, 100 economic zones and so on.
"Huge investment we're focusing on which creates an enabling climate for investment. We have shown our excellence in many areas. Now, we're ready to do partnership," he said.
President of the Foreign Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Rupali Haque Chowdhury said the businesses operating in the country had to scout all over the world for finding a strategic partner even in 10 to 15 years ago. Gone are the days.
She gives an example of her own company's recent development. Berger Bangladesh last year, during the Covid-19 period, formed a technical collaboration with a Danish company virtually.
"They (Danish company) did not visit us, but we did it. We also brought in five painting technologies here in only ten months. That's how Bangladesh is right now. The rest of the world now scouts Bangladesh for investment," she told her audience.
Hailing the country's remarkable progress over the last five decades, British High Commissioner in Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson stressed the importance of three areas to be improved to take the nation next stage of development.
These are greater engagement of Bangladesh with global economy, financial-sector reform that will encourage foreign capital to come in, and improving tertiary level of education to international standards.
IFC Acting Country Manager, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Nuzhat Anwar said they believe that at this stage Bangladesh has reached its limit on its development model.
"Now, we need a new strategy. And when we say strategy, it's about new financing techniques, new sectors, new policies, amending policies to be globally competitive and relevant in the market to go to the next level," she said.
Citing the Eighth Five-Year Plan, she said Bangladesh government needs about US$608 billion for infrastructure by 2040.
"Of that, 75 per cent has to come from private sector. IFC's role here would be important to build the confidence to bring in private capital," she said.
Prime Minister's private-sector industry and investment adviser Salman F Rahman said the country facilitates the investors offering sector-specific incentives, uninterrupted supply of utilities and investment-friendly policies.