Bangladesh’s strategic location provides tremendous potential, she says
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday urged big Indian investors to set up industries in Bangladesh and export the products, to be produced in those industries, to vast markets in India and South East Asian countries, taking advantage of the improved connectivity.
"We want to see trade and investment together where Indian big investors can set up industries in Bangladesh and export the products to the north-eastern states of India and to the South-East Asian countries, taking advantage of the improved connectivity between us," she said.
The Prime Minister was addressing the inaugural session of India-Bangladesh Business Forum, held at the Hotel ITC Maurya here, the capital city of India.
Hasina said strategic location of Bangladesh provides "tremendous potential" for being the economic hub of the region. "With India on the west, China on the north and South-East Asia on the east, Bangladesh is in the middle of a combined market of 4 billion people."
Noting that most of the growing economies in the world have undertaken their primary trade and investment projects in their neighbouring countries, she said in a similar manner, Indian business leaders could play a very big role in furthering Bangladesh's economic prospects.
"Together we would build "Sonar Bangla" or Golden Bangladesh, as dreamt by the Father of our Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman," Hasina said.
She said the persistent growth of global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Bangladesh since her government took over in 2009 reflects the increasing confidence of the foreign investment in Bangladesh.
Hasina said Bangladesh has the most liberal investment policy in South Asia and it includes protection of foreign investment by law; generous tax holiday; concessionary duty on import of machinery; unrestricted exit policy; full repatriation of dividend and capital on exit, to name a few.
She said foreign investment is protected by relevant acts of Parliament and bilateral investment treaties.
"We're in the process of establishing 100 Special Economic Zones," Hasina said adding that a dozen of them are ready with four allotments to three countries.
A number of high-tech parks are also ready for technology and innovative enterprises. Bangladesh has offered three Special Economic Zones for Indian investors at Mongla, Bheramara and Mirsarai, said the Prime Minister.
"Substantial investment from Indian investors in these three Indian Economic Zones in Bangladesh would help broaden our exportable base," she said.
Hasina said the trade and investment between our two countries are increasing.
She said the volume of bilateral trade has steadily grown during the past years and the balance of trade, however, is still largely in India's favour.
The volume of trade between two countries is nearly 10 billion dollars, she said.
In 2018, the Prime Minister said, Bangladesh was India's eighth largest export destination with 8.8 billion dollars export and Bangladesh's export to India also crossed 1 billion-dollar mark for the first time last year.
"So, the progress is visible, but there's a lot of scope for further deepening our relations in the area of trade and investment," she added.
The relations of Bangladesh with India reached the best-ever stage, which Prime Minister Modi himself has termed a "Sonali Adhyay". "We're confident that in the coming years, we would further lift our relations to new heights."
"Despite profound geopolitical changes and challenges, we've been able to strengthen and consolidate our relations, based on the principles of mutual benefit and a shared future," said Hasina.
The cooperation between the two countries has expanded in all areas, including security, energy, connectivity, trade and investment, defence, culture and people to people contact, she said.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh has achieved a remarkable economic progress in the last decade often recognised as "development model".
Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and it is the second largest garment exporter, third largest inland fish producer, fourth largest freshwater fish producer, fourth largest rice producer and eighth largest remittance earning country, she said.
The GDP growth was 8.1 percent in the last fiscal year and it is expecting to be 8.2 percent in the current fiscal, said the Prime Minister.
The foreign currency reserve rose to US$ 33 billion and exports grew 3 times from 2005-06 to reach US$ 40.53 billion in 2018-2019, she mentioned.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh and India are currently enjoying the best of relations and the political leaderships are committed to ensuring the right kind of enabling environment for the entrepreneurs.
"The platform is there and we're ready to provide every assistance to facilitate your endeavours. I would urge all of you (investors) to make best use of the platform and contribute to the economies of both the countries for the greater mutual benefits of our peoples," she said.
The Prime Minister also said, "Thereby we could make our countries and the region as a whole more prosperous, and free from hunger and poverty."