<div style=”text-align:justify;”>An Economy on the Move: Investment Opportunities in Bangladesh is an economy on the move, said Mr. Zahid Maleque, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare from the Republic of Bangladesh, to delegates from across the region at the inaugural Arab-Asia Business Partnership Summit, held in Manama, Bahrain this past December.
In his remarks, he expressed appreciation for the strong ties between Bangladesh, Bahrain, India, and other regional nations and emphasized the wealth of opportunities available for those investors in the rapidly growing economy of Bangladesh.
Traditionally Bangladesh has been a strong provider of human resource capital for the region, but Mr. Maleque told delegates that Bangladesh’s economy is on the rise, with a 6% annual increase in GDP across sectors such as industry, agriculture, the service sector and IT. The minister credited this growth to the policies of Prime Minister Sheikh Haseena’s government—whose good wishes he conveyed—and specifically, the adoption of new business-friendly policies and incentives designed to elevate Bangladesh’s stable society and economy into the top tier of international investment destinations.
Business sectors Minister Maleque particularly mentioned as on the move included textile and garment industry, whose sales have skyrocketed from $16.1 billion USD in 2011 to $25 billion USD annually, second only internationally to China. Employing five million people, the Bangladeshi textile industry spans knitwear, leisurewear, home textiles, leather products, and high street fashion produced for internationally leading brands, and strategic partnerships with firms based in India, China, and Arab countries are on the rise—paving the way for lucrative investment opportunities.
Bangladesh’s agricultural sector was also on the minister’s list of growing business opportunities: already comprising 25% of the country’s GDP, it is currently growing at an astounding rate of 25% annually, and encompasses over 90 varieties of vegetable, fresh and frozen fish, seed production, and more. Bangladesh’s low population density—160 million inhabitants living in 150,000 square kilometres—has allowed its agricultural sector to produce abundantly enough to guarantee Bangladesh does not require any food imports, and the sector has turned to exporting processed food to both developed and developing Arab-Asian countries, creating demand for international businesses to invest in or partner with Bangladeshi businesses in multiple fields—cold storage for export produce, vegetable preservation, production of fertilizers and seeds, eco-friendly jute products, shrimp farming, halal foods, milk, and value-added foods for export—in order to get in on the ground floor of this burgeoning agricultural distribution network.
Also growing in Bangladesh today is the ceramic wares industry, exporting table ware of international quality internationally, and the more day-to-day needs of a rapidly growing country. Bangladesh’s infrastructure needs, the minister said, span roads, bridges, ports, oil refineries, L P Gas, hospitals, hotels, commercial complexes, apartments, and the telecommunications industry, up to and including household electronics.
However, the greatest infrastructure need the minister identified for potential firms and investors was the key sector of energy. Stating that “Bangladesh is always an energy-deficient country,” the minister identified a need for an additional 2000 MW annually, and stated that the government was actively seeking international investment in this sector, with attractive incentives such as 100% ownership, 10-year tax holidays, nonstop service availability, a free economic zone, and easy repatriation of profit on offer—and easy geographical access to ASEAN markets, which will enjoy duty-free trade once the South Asian Free Trade Area comes into force. He further touted Bangladesh’s provision of free medical care, especially noting free child immunizations and female empowerment, as contributing to a healthy and inviting business environment with an affordable standard of living, bilateral investment treaties with 30 countries, and a well-educated, multilingual, hardworking and disciplined labor force.
As well as identifying hot sectors in the Bangladeshi economy, the minister also hinted to delegates at more potential industries waiting to explode with proper investment and technological support.
Expressing his hope that the Arab-Asia Business Partnership Summit would provide ample opportunities for further joint ventures and stronger industrial relationships, the minister made it clear why Goldman Sachs has identified Bangladesh as one of the next top eleven emerging markets and Morgan Stanley cited it as experiencing the early stages of a huge investment boom—and made a strong case that the time is ripe for investment in Bangladeshi industries.</div>
“Expressing his hope that the Arab-Asia business Partnership Summit would provide ample opportunities for further joint ventures and stronger industrial relationships, the minister made it clear why Goldman Sachs has identified Bangladesh as one of the next top eleven emerging markets and Morgan Stanley cited it as experiencing and early stages of a huge investment boom—and made a strong case that the time is ripe for investment in Bangladeshi industries.”