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PM woos US investors; promises protection
New York, BdChronicle:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has invited the US entrepreneurs to partner with Bangladesh in investment, trade, share of profits and prosperity to strengthen the friendship between the two countries.
"I urge upon you, the leaders of the US business, commerce and industry to partner with us in investment, trade, share of profits and prosperity. Our mutual beneficial business will strengthen our two countries’ friendship, raising it to an enviable level,” she said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the luncheon roundtable meeting organised by the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) at Hotel Grand Hyatt here on Wednesday.
She said all the sectors except arms and ammunitions, nuclear power, forestation and security printing are open to investment by private entrepreneurs.
"… we invite investment in potential areas such as power and energy, especially in renewable energy, shipbuilding and recycling, automobile and light engineering, chemical fertilizers, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, ceramic and plastic goods, ICT, marine resources extraction, tourism, medical equipment, telecommunications and knowledge based hi-tech industries,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is on the way to becoming an industrialised, digitalised, middle-income country by materialising its ‘Vision 2021’ and a developed country by 2041 as it has already graduated to a low middle-income country.
"Our trade relationship is reflected by our increasing bilateral trade that totalled US $ 7 billion last year. But, the full potential for the expansion of this relationship remains to be explored,” she pointed out.
Hasina, however, said quite a few stumbling blocks like very high tariffs on Bangladeshi apparels are preventing this potential from expanding to its desired level.
"While majority of LDCs enjoy duty-free market access to the USA under different preferential schemes, Bangladesh along with Asian LDCs are facing increasingly stiff competition from those LDCs because of high tariffs,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said even some developing countries enjoy the benefit of duty-free access under AGOA. "This is a basic inequality and injustice that needs to be addressed to ensure a level-playing field for all the competitors,” she said.
Hasina said all the developed countries except the USA, and even many developing countries have already granted duty-free access to LDCs as per commitments under Doha Round.
The Prime Minister mentioned that Bangladesh has the most liberal investment policy in South Asia. It includes protection of foreign investment by law; generous tax holiday; concessionary duty on import of machinery; remittances of royalty; 100 percent foreign equity, unrestricted exit policy; full repatriation of dividend and capital on exit.
"Foreign investment is protected by relevant acts of parliament and bilateral investment treaties. It is to note that Bangladesh already signed Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) and Convention on Avoidance of Double Taxation Treaty with USA,” she said.
Hasina mentioned that the government has planned to establish 100 Exclusive Economic Zones throughout the country where investors will find all the services available at one place.
She said more than half a dozen exclusive economic zones (EEZs) are ready with all facilities for foreign private enterprises to set up industries. "Rapid urbanisation fed by increasing consumption of electricity and burgeoning growth of the middle class indicates the market potential in Bangladesh for the investors.”
Hasina mentioned that Bangladesh enjoys duty- and quota-free access to almost all the developed countries, and developing countries like China, Japan, India and South Korea amongst others. Investors producing exportable items could benefit from marketing them to those countries.
The Prime Minister said the USA is the second largest investor in Bangladesh.
She said that the persistent growth of global FDI into Bangladesh since her government took over in 2009 crossing $2b mark last year reflects the increasing confidence of the foreign investors in Bangladesh. The US investment in Bangladesh crossed US$ one billion during the last seven years. "We're investing heavily to improve the infrastructure and power in order to facilitate investment.”
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh has evolved from one of aid dependence to that of trade dependence. Bangladesh is now the 32nd largest economy of the world (based on PPP). Foreign Aid is less than 1.5 percent of Bangladesh’s annual GDP. “Bangladesh is today a role model of economic development.”
Representatives from UTC Associates, Denham Capital, McLarty Associates, Ellicott Dredges, Motorola Solution, APR Energy, Uber Technologies, Viasat, American Tower, Walmart, Orbis, Etihad, Metlife, Medtronic, BCIU, Boeing, Mastercard, Skypower, Exxon Mobil, Pragma Systems, Karnafuly Shipbuildres, AOT Energy, Chevron, Coca-Cola, GE Power, Fedex, Powerpac, and Proctor & Gamble were present.
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, PM’s ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy and president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) M Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin were, among others, present from Bangladesh side.