Asserting that Bangladesh knows how to transform challenges into opportunities, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the global investors to invest in Bangladesh’s education, light engineering, electronics, the automotive industry and artificial intelligence beyond the conventional menu since the country can be a connecting landmass to a combined market of nearly 3 billion people.
“This all speaks to a quiet transformation where people have taken risks and faced challenges by becoming more innovative and adopting technology. It is time that global investors, particularly Indian entrepreneurs, invest in Bangladesh in areas like education, light engineering, electronics, the automotive industry and artificial intelligence – beyond the conventional menu,” she said.The Prime Minister said this in her article posted on the website of the World Economic Forum on Friday.
Sheikh Hasina is now in India on a four-day official visit participating in the India Economic Summit.
Referring to the concerns of some about the risks of investing in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, in her article said, “Yes, we have challenges like many other countries. But in Bangladesh we know how to transform challenges into opportunities. This year, our economy posted record high growth of 8.1%. We are close to achieving double-digit growth. Since 2009, Bangladesh’s economy has grown by 188% in size. Our per-capita income has surpassed $1,909,”
The Prime Minister said today, Bangladesh offers the most liberal investment regime in South Asia – in terms of legal protection of foreign investment, generous fiscal incentives, concessions on machinery imports, an unrestricted exit policy, full repatriation of dividends and capital on exit.
“We are establishing 100 Special Economic Zones with one-stop service across Bangladesh. Twelve of the zones are already functioning. Two zones are reserved for Indian investors. A number of high-tech parks are also ready for technology and innovative enterprises,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said in between Eastern and North-East India, China on the west and South-East Asia, Bangladesh merits the attention of global and Indian business as a seamless economic space. “We can serve as the economic hub for the sub-region. Beyond our own 162 million people, Bangladesh can be the connecting landmass to a combined market of nearly 3 billion people,” she added.Last year, she said HSBC predicted that Bangladesh would be the 26th largest economy in the world, by 2030. “Two things are key: one is our open society, religious harmony, liberal values and secular culture. The other is that two-third of our homogenous population is young – mostly under 25. They are quickly skill-able, adaptive to technologies, and ready to engage at competitive wages,”
Sheikh Hasina said, “We are continuously learning in our journey towards development with our confident people, able leadership and governance. Bangladesh offers you a stable and humanitarian state, where leadership is responsive and responsible. That’s coupled with sound macro-economic fundamentals – and our pragmatic and open economy shall continue to set global trends and the example of a peaceful and progressive nation,”
She said Bangladesh’s agriculture production is no longer about subsistence. “Beyond self-sufficiency, we are now the fourth-largest rice producer, second-largest jute producer, fourth-largest in mango production, fifth-largest in vegetable production and fourth-largest in inland fisheries in the world. We are decoding the genome of key crops and fruits to move further,”
The Premier said many see Bangladesh as a ‘market’ of over 30 million middle- and affluent-class people and a ‘development miracle’. “To me, our strengths are the societal values and peoples’ trust in Bangladesh. Equally, peoples’ aspiration to progress and their resilience as well as their confidence in our leadership,”
She went on saying, “My father, the Father of our Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, dreamt of a Sonar Bangla, an exploitation-free and just society. His vision gives us the confidence to move with our vision to advance Bangladesh as a developing country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041,”
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh is quickly moving to a high-value, knowledge-intensive society, beyond apparel manufacturing. Last year, Bangladesh exported 12 industrial robots to Korea while four ships made in Bangladesh came to India. Recently, Reliance purchased a large quantity of refrigerators made in Bangladesh. Bangladesh also has 600,000 IT freelancers– the largest freelancing community.
Turning to the fast urbanisation in Bangladesh, she said by 2030, 48 percent of Bangladesh’s population will live in towns and cities while most will be young, energetic and digitally connected.
“They will be agile, receptive to new ideas and look for new ways of creating wealth. In fact, this is already happening with over 110 million active internet subscribers in Bangladesh. By 2025, mobile internet penetration will reach to 41% population. Rapid urbanization, fed by increasing consumption of electricity and more than 30 million middle class citizens, is indeed a huge market,” she added.
In transforming the country into a “Digital Bangladesh’, since 2009, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has ensured 100 percent ICT access for people at the grassroots. “Our focus is to employ technology to solve common people’s developmental challenges. As a result, Bangladesh has the fifth-largest internet user population in Asia-Pacific. We are fast becoming a cashless society: last year, e-commerce transactions reached $260 million,”