Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has invited US investors to come to Bangladesh with businesses, technology, and innovations for mutual benefit, assuring them of her government’s full support and cooperation.
“We also have challenge ahead of Fourth Industrial Revolution looming in the horizon. I invite you to come to Bangladesh with your businesses, technology, and innovations for mutual benefit,” she told a luncheon with US businesses.
The premier added: “Please join us in our journey of shared profit and prosperity . . . I assure you of my government’s full support and cooperation.”
The US Chamber of Commerce organised the luncheon at Hotel Grand Hayatt New York here on Monday.
Sheikh Hasina said that Bangladesh followed the most liberal investment policy in South Asia offering as well the most attractive incentives and highest profit rate.
“It includes protection of FDI by law, incentives like generous tax holiday, concessionary duty on import of machinery, duty free import of raw materials, remittances on royalty, 100% foreign equity, unrestricted exit policy, and full repatriation of dividend and capital on exit,” she said.
Other advantages, she said, include the young, committed and easily trainable workforce with highly competitive wages, cheaper costs of setting business, access to a large duty free quota free market, low cost electricity and water, Bangladesh’s good credit rating, minimum risk factors, and fast technology adaptability.
The premier said Bangladesh’s strategic location made it an emerging hub for regional connectivity, foreign investments and global outsourcing while “we have taken connectivity initiatives to connect our Indian, Chinese and South East Asian neighbours”.
“We are ready to take up more in diversified areas of infrastructure, connectivity and high-tech for a sustainable double digit growth. To the thrust sectors, I add growing services sectors of banking and finance, tourism, health and education,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh could be a gateway to a market of 4 billion people – itself offering a strong and growing market of 160 million while it took initiatives for secured economic growth and ten growth and employment-generating mega projects.
“Delta Plan 2100, taken up in cooperation with the Dutch Government, is to secure water safety, food security and economic growth by preventing floods and erosion,” she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh wants to open new avenues of blue economy while “we are establishing 100 Exclusive Economic Zones for new industries and investment at both public and private sectors, two dozen high-tech parks are ready”.
In March 2018, she said, the UN declared Bangladesh eligible for graduation from LDC group to a developing country.
“We have been implementing Vision 2021 since 2009 to materialize the dream of Father of the Nation Banglabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said using graduation as stepping stone, Bangladesh is now working on the Vision 2041 of becoming a developed nation.
“Bangladesh has come out of aid dependence as we have aligned our economy with international trade and labour market,” she said.
The premier said during nine and a half years her government, the economy grew at an average rate of 6.6 percent and “reaching 7.86 percent last fiscal, the growth is expected to be 8.25 percent in the next fiscal”.
Sheikh Hasina said inflation declined to 5.4 from 12.3 percent and foreign currency reserve grew more than 9 times to over USD 33 billion in 2018 from a mere USD 7.5 billion in 2009 while the poverty rate on the other hand fell to 21.8 percent from 41.5 percent in 2006.”
The premier said technology and innovation are bringing fast economic transformation in Bangladesh.
“Having gained self-sufficiency, Bangladesh is now the 3rd largest producer of vegetables, 4th largest producer of rice, and 3rd largest producer of inland fisheries in the world,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said currently the second largest RMG exporter with exporting USD 30.61 (Thirty point six-one) billion in last fiscal, Bangladesh is poised to become the first soon.
“Bold entrepreneurship and drive for export diversification with FDI are facilitating new sectors to emerge.,” she said.
The pharmaceutical industry, she said, is one of those which is currently meeting 98% of local demand and exporting to about 125 countries.
“Ship building is another one. We are exporting medium-size ocean going vessels to even European countries. Knowledge-based ICT sector is thriving on 136 million mobile phone users, 73 million of them using mobile data,” she said.
The premier said being a crucial factor for high growth energy sector, was opening up opportunities for FDI with the country’s electricity production capacity reaching 20,000 mw this month from a mere 3200 MW in 2009.
The premier said ongoing work on a 2400-MW nuclear power plant along with several coal-fired plants is advancing the government’s plan to generate 40 thousand megawatt electricity by 2030 and 60 thousand megawatt by 2041.
“Ten percent of the electricity will come from renewable energy,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said she is happy that the USA is now Bangladesh’s single largest trading partner with bilateral trade of USD 7.5 billion in 2016-17 and second largest investment partner with investment of over USD 3 billion.
Vice-President, Asia, International Government Relations, MetLife, Managing Director, Excelarate Energy, Steven Kobos, Brian Lope of International Government Affairs, Boeing, James O’Brien, Global Head of LNG, AOT Energy, Bea Perez of the Coca-Cola, Vice-President and Chief Development Officer, GE Power, Ambassador Teresita Schaffer of McLary Associates also spoke on the occasion.
They highly appreciated Bangladesh’s tremendous progress and development particularly in socioeconomic field and women empowerment under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Besides, senior officials of US-Bangladesh Global Chamber of Commerce, Coca-Cola Bangladesh, Albright Stonebridge Group, Motorola Solutions, APR Energy, Drinkwell, IBM, Chenere, BowerGroupAsia, US Department of State, Creative Associates International, ExxonMobil, Pragma Systems, Chrvron, YouTube-Google, GE Power, Walmart, Mclarty Associates, Medtronic, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia attended the meeting.
It was moderated by Senior Vice President, South Asia, US Chamber of Commerce, Nisha Biswal.
The premier later joined a question answer session and replied different questions raised by the US chamber leaders.