Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged global business leaders to invest in Bangladesh and assured them of providing all the necessary supports.
‘I invite you, especially the leaders from the global business sector present here today, to invest in Bangladesh. Rest assured, you’ll have the full support of my government in one of Asia’s most robust FDI incentive regimes,’ she said.
The Prime Minister was delivering her statement at a high-level event of the ‘Heads of Government Roundtable with Senior Business Leaders’ chaired by UK Prime Minister Theresa May at Intercontinental Hotel here.
She said Bangladesh sees immense potential in enhancing trade relations with Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), African and Caribbean countries.
‘With 90 million middle-class consumers out of 160 million population and DFQF access (Duty free and quota-free) to the EU, Australian, Canadian and Japanese markets, foreign investors are rebranding Bangladesh as Asia’s next best investment hub,’ she said.
The prime minister mentioned that power generation, including oil and gas exploration, for sustained industrial investment is a top priority of the government.
Hasina said foreign investment in the current fiscal stands at over USD 3 billion. ‘The policies and programmes for economic empowerment and sustainable development adopted by my government are yielding tangible results,’ she said.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh considers private partnerships from Commonwealth member countries and organisations as vital in ongoing development process.
‘In this context, the government has initiated the establishment of 100 economic zones in different areas of the country and ‘one stop service’ for foreign direct investment and infrastructure development. That, I believe, will generate employment opportunities and skill development activities for our active workforce, including women,’ she said.
Saying that Small and Medium Enterprises have a multidimensional contribution to a country’s development, Hasina mentioned the labour intensive SMEs with low capital produce goods that meet local demands and bring export earnings as well.
‘For developing countries like Bangladesh, SMEs are a driving force for economic growth, employment generation and poverty alleviation.’
She said the government is providing support to this sector given its huge potential for growing and diversifying exports.
The prime minister said the government is disbursing collateral-free loans with single digit interest rates for SME entrepreneurs, particularly women and arranging demand-based training programmes for promotion and marketing of products.
‘With a vision of Digital Bangladesh, my country attaches great importance to development of electronic commerce, which has the potential to benefit our SMEs.’
‘Earlier this month, we’ve announced establishment of SME advisory centers in all districts and upazilas, which will utilise digital means to act as one-stop centers to provide service to the entrepreneurs,’ she said.
Bangladesh is regarded globally as a model of remarkable progress in poverty reduction, women empowerment and human development, despite daunting challenges.
‘The SME sector will be an important anchor to build on our successes made so far. That is why my government is supporting and encouraging development of this sector.’
She underscored providing tangible support from the Commonwealth to help governments and the private sector work together for sustainable economic development across all the member countries.
For enhancing global trade, Bangladesh has always supported promotion of a rules based, transparent, inclusive and fair multilateral trade and investment regime, said Sheikh Hasina.
Last month, she said, Bangladesh for the first time met all the three criteria required for the graduation from LDC status.
‘We thus join the group of developing countries in expressing our disappointment at progress being stalled in the Doha Development Round Negotiations. Moreover, hopes of an imminent breakthrough in multilateral trade negotiation are fading as we witnessed in the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference,’ said the Prime Minister.
Hasina put emphasis on micro savings, e-commerce and establishing a conflict-free peaceful world.
After the meeting, PM’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim said 13 heads of government and state of the Commonwealth nations attended the roundtable.
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