Sun, 24 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

PM seeks more US investment in Bangladesh

Update : 29 Aug 2023, 23:08

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday called for larger investment of the US companies in cross sectors particularly power, energy, ICT and infrastructure.

"I believe US companies will take advantage and invest more in potential and productive sectors like power and energy, ICT, infrastructure, light engineering and electronics, automobile industry, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, and ceramics, among others," she said.

In her introductory speech in a meeting with the visiting executive business delegation from the US-Bangladesh Business Council at her official Ganabhaban residence on Tuesday evening, she said that currently, Bangladesh has the most open Foreign Direct Investment policies in South Asia.

The premier said that the friendship and partnership between Bangladesh and the USA proved to be mutually beneficial for both the countries and deeply rooted in mutual trust.

"Since independence, the US has been one of our trustworthy development partners, contributing to our socio-economic progress. Being the single largest source of FDI and export market for Bangladesh, I wish the USA would continue to support its growth trajectory," she said.

The prime minister said her government is pursuing a sustainable long-term growth strategy for the citizens as acknowledged by global economists and organizations.

She continued that they are now more united than ever before and have promised to realize the vision of Smart Bangladesh by 2041.

"With such a strong prospect, I would now assure you of the best possible policy framework to ease our business and investment climate and make it friendlier to you," she said.

She said that the US-Bangladesh Energy Taskforce and the US-Bangladesh Digital Economy Task Force will contribute to deepening the cooperation of companies from both the countries to ensure their sustainable development.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh had ensured the most attractive climate for investment that includes a liberalized industrial policy, one-stop service, an allowance for 100% foreign ownership, an easy exit policy, a 15-year tax exemption, a VAT exemption for imported machinery, streamlined services, and more.

To facilitate industrialization, she said they are establishing 100 Special Economic Zones, 109 Hi-Tech and Software Technology Parks, and IT Training and Incubation Centers across the country.

The Padma Bridge, which was opened last year, established a direct road and rail link to 21 southern districts, she said.

The premier said they are shortly going to open some other megaprojects like Matarbari Deep Sea Port, Dhaka elevated expressway, part of Metro-rail in Dhaka, and Bangabandhu Tunnel in Chattogram.

"These infrastructures will further amplify both external connectivity and internal trade, thus acting as catalysts for growth," she said.

With its own market of 170 million people, she said Bangladesh is located in the heart of a market of nearly three billion consumers.

She continued they, therefore, promote the concept of connectivity with our neighbours, which is becoming a reality.

"With its strategic location, Bangladesh is emerging as an ideal place for trade and investment in the region and beyond," she said.

The premier opined Bangladesh's strength lies in its people and they have about 55 million youths with the requisite skills.

"All these stories refer to the strengths and opportunities of my country, and I believe the American business community would like to consider them for the mutual benefit of our countries," she said.

Giving a brief description of her government initiatives for ensuring overall development of Bangladesh, she said the world community noticed that Bangladesh developed both socially and economically through odds and obstacles.

Over the last 14 and a half years, she said her government has ensured the good governance and welfare of our citizens, along with the highest growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region in recent times.

Today, she said that Bangladesh is the 35th largest economy in the world and will be the 20th largest by 2037.

"We have reduced the poverty rate from 41.5% to 18.7 %, extreme poverty to 5.6 % during the last 14 and a half years. Our per capita income rose to US dollars 2,765 in 2022 from USD 543 in 2006. Bangladesh has fulfilled all criteria to graduate as a developing country," she said.

She said Bangladesh is now pursuing long-term strategies to be among the high-income nations by 2041.

By this time, she said they have achieved self-sufficiency in food production, reached electricity every household, improved education and literacy, and created a more attractive climate for investment.

"I want to thank you again for your visit following my request made during the launch of the US-Bangladesh Business Council on 6 April 2021", she said.

The prime minister said she is sure that the USA business people will be able to understand the congenial atmosphere and feel confident in their potential investment in Bangladesh.

"You will learn that Bangladesh is now being recognized for its state-of-the-art manufacturing factories in various sectors like RMG, leather, plastic, jute, ICT, agro-processing, and many more," she said.

"Now is our TIME - and you are here to make it yours, taking advantage of our conducive investment regime. I wish every success to the US-Bangladesh Business Council," she went on saying.

The prime minister said she is also happy that after the first and successful round of business delegations, this second delegation is visiting Bangladesh, which bears the sign of enormous encouragement to expand business in Bangladesh by US entrepreneurs.

"I am extremely hopeful that your visit and exchange of views with the relevant government and private bodies will further surface the expected business-to-business partnership and benefit the private sectors of both countries," she said.

She also thanked the Chamber for hosting me in Washington this year in May at a roundtable titled "U.S.-Bangladesh Economic Partnership".

Board Members of the Business Council, Entrepreneurs and Business Executives from Bangladesh and USA, were also present.

In her concluding speech, the prime minister said, "Let us commit taking the existing friendly relations and cooperation between Bangladesh and the USA to a new height by increasing the volume of trade and commerce between the two countries."

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, PM's Energy Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowhury, PM's Private Industry and Investment Affairs Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman and PM's Principal Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah were present.

President, U.S.-Bangladesh Business Council, Senior Vice President, South Asia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Ambassador (ret.) Atul Keshap,

President, Chief Executive Officer, EXCELERATE ENERGY (Board Chair & Mission Lead) Steven Kobos, spoke on the occasion.

Board members of the Business Council, Entrepreneurs and Business Executives from Bangladesh and USA were also present.

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