Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday invited investors from the Commonwealth countries to come to Bangladesh in a bigger way.
“Geographically, Bangladesh is at the center of a market of 3 billion people. We have 170 million people of our own. By 2030, the affluent population of Bangladesh will stand at 35 million. Therefore, Bangladesh will become the third largest market globally, leaving behind Germany and the United Kingdom,” she said.
The prime minister said this while addressing the two-day "Commonwealth trade and investment forum Bangladesh-2023" at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC).
The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, which is the Commonwealth's accredited business network, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Zi Foundation, a family-run foundation that offers support to vulnerable people, jointly organised the event.
The aim is to promote innovation, trade, investment and economic growth, enhance partnerships and explore ways towards sustainable and inclusive economic development for Bangladesh.
The PM said that Bangladesh needs development partners for reaching its goal.
“We need more high-quality and sustainable investment to accelerate the economic progress of Bangladesh,” she said.
She mentioned that as a prerequisite for Biniyog Bikash, or investment promotion, her government has prioritised organisational reforms, the formation of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), which offering attractive facilities for investors, and ensuring post-investment services.
Hasina said that almost all sectors are open for investment in Bangladesh.
But among those, she said, more investment is encouraged in agricultural goods and food processing, leather and leather goods processing, medical equipment, automobiles and shipbuilding, and ICT.
“There are promising investment facilities in these sectors, including the easy process of taking back dividends or benefits to your home country,” she said.
The premier said that some 70 percent of Bangladesh's foreign direct investment comes from reinvestment, which is a proof of the excellent investment environment that Bangladesh offers to investors.
She mentioned that BIDA has started a one-stop fast-track delivery service to facilitate investors with the services of various departments of the government and through this one-stop service, 78 services from 26 departments can be received through one platform.
Mentioning that the pre-requisite for investment is the development of infrastructure, she said that the government has established 100 economic zones, 109 hi-tech and software technology parks, and IT training and incubation centres across the country with attractive incentive packages to promote foreign investors.
“We are developing our land, rail, and air connectivity. Almost all highways in the country have been elevated to four or more lanes,” she said.
In this connection, she said that the Padma Bridge has connected 21 south-western districts of Bangladesh directly with Dhaka and other parts of the country.
“There will be rail connectivity through the Padma Bridge between Dhaka and Khulna soon," she said.
She said that soon the government will inaugurate the Karnaphuli underwater tunnel, the first such infrastructure not only in Bangladesh but in South Asia.
“Work on establishing rail link between Chattogram and tourism town Cox’s Bazar is progressing fast.”
Sheikh Hasina said that after winning the election in 2008 and forming the government in 2009, the government has started building the country based on short-, middle-, and long-term programmes.
“A democratic environment, political stability, continuity of government, and, above all, structured development programs have helped in the quick socio-economic development of Bangladesh," she stated
The prime minister said that the government is working to build a Smart Bangladesh, which will be realised by building the pillars of smart government, smart citizens, a smart economy, and a smart society.
“Our goal now is to become a knowledge-based and Developed Smart Country by 2041 and a Prosperous Delta by 2100. We are working relentlessly towards that goal through the Perspective Plan, the Five-Year Plan, and the Delta Plan 2100.”
Prime minister's private industry and investment adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Executive Chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Lokman Hossain Miah, Strategic Advisor (Bangladesh) Of CWEIC Zillur Hussain And Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) Chairman Lord Marland also spoke at the programme.
PM Hasina also handed over Commonwealth Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Green Investment Award to Eco Brixs from Uganda.
A video documentary was screened in the programme.