Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

Padma Bridge to be a gateway to more FDI

Padma Bridge will become a gateway for fetching more foreign direct investments (FDI) for the 17 proposed economic zones and industrial parks in the South-Western region of the country, experts opined.

Economists also termed the Padma Bridge as a change-maker for Bangladesh's economy which will connect 21 underdeveloped districts to international communications through the trans-Asian Highways.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work of Padma Bridge in December 2015 utilizing internal resources. Since then, many foreign investors invested in Bangladesh considering its economic strength and future potential.

Bangladesh received $20.39 billion in the last five years from FY 2015-16 to FY 2020-21, according to Bangladesh Bank (BB) data.

Noted economist and Agrani Bank Chairman Dr Zaid Bakht said Padma Bridge is a milestone project for the country with huge potential for attracting FDI in the country.

“FDI comes into a country in collaboration with local investors. So firstly, we should facilitate our local industries to attract foreigners. The Padma Bridge has already shown the strength of Bangladesh globally. Now we need to brand the country,” Dr Zaid, former research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, told the Daily Sun.

The prominent economist expressed hope that the outbound migration will reduce over time and the quality of human resources will turn Bangladesh into a manufacturing hub in the region.

Bangladesh fetched FDI of $3.88 billion in the first ten months of outgoing FY 2021-22, which is 35.21 percent higher than the same period last year. The figure was $ 2.61 billion during the corresponding period of FY 2020-21.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Distinguished Fellow Dr Mustafizur Rahman said the Padma Bridge has opened up a new window to attract FDI into the country.

“There are planned special economic zones and industrial parks in the connected districts to the capital. The mega infrastructure is projected to boost the country’s GDP by 1.3 percent through facilitating the transport of commuters and freight vehicles,” Dr Mustafiz told the Daily Sun.

The economist informed that Padma Bridge will be connected to some international highways – including BBIN and Trans Asian Highways.

Apart from connecting nearly 30 million people in Bangladesh's southwest region to the rest of the country, the bridge will enhance regional trade and collaboration along with the Asian Highway No. 1 and the Trans-Asian railway network.

Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) Chairman Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque said Padma Bridge has significance in terms of FDI as it is developed as part of Trans Asian highways.

“Big economies like India and China are very close to Bangladesh. The mega infrastructure will smooth the communications of international trade and commerce as two sea ports – Mongla and Payra will be connected directly with the capital,” Dr Razzaque told the Daily Sun.

The economist thinks the 17 proposed economic zones in the South Western districts of the country will attract more foreign direct investment. 

Dr Razzaque said China has already pledged foreign direct investments worth $30 billion in different projects for Bangladesh under Belt and Roads Initiative and Padma Bridge will bring pace to the development cooperation as it makes ease movement of people and goods beyond the borders.

Around six years ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the launch of BRI and so far 125 countries and 29 international organisations have signed 173 cooperation agreements under the initiative framework.