Bangladesh International Investment Summit (BIIS) 2021 has begun in the capital on Sunday with an aim to draw more foreign investment for the country.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the top meeting of businesses that converged on the venue in person and also virtually from across the globe.
In her commencement address, the PM called upon the investors to consider Bangladesh an optimum investment destination as the government has made an all-out investment friendly policy.
The premier joined the programme virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.
“I believe investors will be able to learn more about investment potentials in our economic zones through this conference,” she said.
The government has identified 11 potential investment sectors, including infrastructure, capital markets, financial services, information technology, electronics manufacturing, leather, automotive and light engineering, agro-products and food processing, healthcare and medicine, jute textiles, and blue economy.
“More than 60 per cent of foreign direct investment is coming through reinvestment,” said the prime minister.
She informed the event that the importance of Bangladesh in terms of political stability, creation of a skilled workforce, liberal investment policy through attractive incentives, and geographical position between the huge markets of South and Southeast Asia is increasing day by day.
The government has formulated sector-wise industrial development policies along with the National Industrial Policy, passed the Labor (Amendment) Act, 2018, considering environmental protection in taking up every project, automating bond management for the growth of the export-oriented industry.
The Prime Minister added that the government built 39 high-tech parks and is building 100 economic zones in phases.
“We have received investment proposals of $27.07 billion in the economic zones.”
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that the government is building Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City in Mirsarai, Sonagazi, and Sitakunda upazilas while the Japanese Economic Zone in Araihazar entails an investment proposal of $1 billion.
She argued that the government has been working since 2019 to provide 154 investment services of 35 companies online through One-Stop Service.
“We prioritise economic diplomacy and work towards Bilateral and Regional Preferential Trade Agreements, Free Trade Agreements, and Integrated Economic Partnership Agreements. We signed a PTA with Bhutan,” said the PM.
“We are preparing to reap maximum benefits from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) by creating a skilled workforce with state-of-the-art technology. We aim to export $5 billion worth of IT products by 2025.”
She also pointed out that Bangladesh has Bangabandhu Satellite-1 in space and the construction work of the Padma Bridge is nearing completion with its own fund.
The PM held that construction of Metrorail and Expressway in Dhaka and third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Regional Airport at Syedpur, another international airport in Cox’s Bazar, Karnaphuli Tunnel in Chattogram, and deep seaport at Matarbari and Payra are going on in full swing. “We have given an incentive of Tk 187,000 crore to offset the effect of pandemic.”
Bangladesh has emerged from a least developed to a developing country and the size of its economy is now $ 411 billion, foreign exchange reserves stand at $48 billion and per capita income is $ 2,554.
“We have adopted the second perspective plan for the implementation of Vision-2041. We are also implementing Bangladesh Delta Plan-2100,” she went on to say.
Speaking at the summit, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) Abul Kalam Mohammad Ziaur Rahman revealed that initiatives have been taken to set up 100 economic zones across the country by 2030 with an aim to create jobs for 10 million people.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) is hosting the two-day event to draw Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Kalam said BEPZA is providing all required services for investors for the sake of smooth operation in economic zones while the government is preparing zones for rapid industrial growth.
“Investors can choose Bangladesh as an iconic investment destination,” he added.
In her address at the event, the World Bank’s Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan South Asia Region Dr Mercy Miyang Tembon underscored the need for modern technologies and ensuring environmental protection in the economic zones.
“Bangladesh is building fantastic economic zones which will help increase export volume. The government and stakeholders should go green and protect environment there,” she said.
Mentioning the World Bank a development partner of Bangladesh, Tembon expressed her view that the global lender will continue its financial support.
“Bangladesh should go on product diversification in other sectors apart from readymade garments,” she pointed out.
Taking the floor, Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury said Bangladesh is very likely to make a paradigm shift from agro-based nation to industrial nation.
“We are able to prove that we are a nation of fighters. Now Bangladesh is one of the top five resilient countries in the globe, overcoming challenges posed by the Covid-19 and sustaining economic growth at the same time,” the minister held.
“We are celebrating 50 years of independence, and the country bears all the more potentials for investment.”
Chief Representative of JICA Bangladesh Yuho Hayakawa spoke at the event.
Mr Hayakawa recalled how JICA is playing a key role in financing Bangladesh for infrastructure development for long.
“Some challenges are there like transformation of technology, ensuring investment climate and necessary monitoring. However, the government is trying to overcome all of them. Now Bangladesh is a good investment destination,” he remarked.
General Manager of Sumitomo Corporation at Dhaka Office Shinichi Nagata thanked the Bangladesh government for setting up a special economic zone for Japanese investors.
“We are going to start our construction at Japanese Economic Zone in Narayanganj next year and it will end within a given timeframe by the BEZA,” he said.
Executive Member of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Erfan Sharif presented his keynote paper at the event while India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Abdul Matlub Ahmad also spoke.
Prime Minister’s adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Saudi Arabia’s minister for transport and logistics Engineer Saleh Nasser A Al-Jasser and FBCCI president Md Jashim Uddin and BIDA Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam also spoke at the programme.
Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh ITO Naoki read out the written message of Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs HONDA Taro.
Foreign business delegates, ministers and investors praised the business environment in Bangladesh.
10-member Saudi delegation joins Investment Summit
A 10-member Saudi delegation led by Transport Minister Engr Saleh Nasser A Alduhailan arrived in Dhaka Saturday night.
They are attending the International Investment Summit hosted by the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority.
Omar Hariri, president of Saudi Sea Ports Authority, along with other dignitaries is attending the summit.
Saudi investors, including representatives from Saudi private and public sectors like ACWA Power, Engineering Dimension II LLC, Red Sea Gateway Terminal, are joining the summit, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday.
Saudi investors are particularly interested in various projects, including infrastructure, power and energy sectors.
The two-day International Investment Summit-2021 began on Sunday to brand new Bangladesh among the investors of the world.
Chairman Singer Bangladesh Fatih Kemal Ebiclioglu said Bangladesh being a promising economy deserves more foreign direct investment.
World Economic Forum (WEF) Managing Director Jeremy Jurgens said the Investment Summit is an opportunity for foreign investor. They can share technologies and know the policies for partnership with both public and private sectors.
International Finance Corporation (IFC) Regional Vice-President for Asia and Pacific Alfonso Garcia Mora said the institution applauds Bangladesh’s tremendous effort for making the investment climate more business-friendly and proactively reaching out to attract investors to come to the country.
“IFC is working with the Government of Bangladesh on further simplifying procedures to create an even more conducive business enabling environment.”
Garcia Mora said, “IFC has been a long-standing partner of Bangladesh, and we are committed to helping Bangladesh achieve its goal of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2031. Next year, IFC and the World Bank Group will also celebrate 50 years of our partnership.
“The private sector and the financial sector have a pivotal role to play in Bangladesh’s sustained growth and to take it to the next stage of development. Bangladesh has enormous investment potential. Still, there is a need for reforms to strengthen and modernize the private sector, the financial sector and to mobilize large investments.”
Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce and Industry, India said bilateral trade and investment between Bangladesh and India increased in recent year.
“We are looking for a comprehensive economic partnership with Bangladesh,” Piyush Goyal told the conference.