Industry Desk: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday invited Chinese businesspeople to explore the full potentials of business and trade relations with Bangladesh as the country is marching ahead in various areas of economic growth and development.
“As Bangladesh is marching ahead in various areas of economic growth and development, I invite you to explore the full potentials of business and trade relations with Bangladesh,” she said.
The prime minister made the request while delivering her keynote speech at a Roundtable Meeting with Chinese Business Leaders at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) last afternoon.
CCPIT Chairperson Gao Yan delivered the welcome address at the roundtable. Sheikh Hasina also hoped that Chinese businesspeople would significantly enhance their imports from Bangladesh in the coming years given the fact that Bangladesh’s export basket is expanding rapidly.
“There are so many areas to further expand your investment, especially in manufacturing sectors such as in textile, leather and in medium and heavy industry sectors such as agro-processing, light engineering,” she said.
The premier said that China has already emerged as the largest trading partner of Bangladesh. “The total volume of trade between our two countries was 12.4 billion US Dollar in the 2017-18 financial year. However, majority of this trade consisted of imports from China,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that Bangladesh is a very close neighbor of China and geo-strategically located between South and South East Asia. Population wise Bangladesh is the 8th largest country in the world.
“Investment in Bangladesh, not only ensures a direct market access to 162 million people but also indirect access to a market of more than 3 billion population of South Asia and China,” she said.
In this connection, the prime minister said that Bangladesh will continue to enjoy duty-free and-quota-free access to major markets of the world till 2027 although it has been graduated to a developing country.
She said that Bangladesh is blessed with very hardworking, efficient and low-priced labor force. “Wages of semi-skilled and management grade workers are one of the lowest in the world,” she said.
The prime minister also said that Bangladesh offers some of the world’s most competitive fiscal and non-fiscal incentive packages for foreign investors.
“These include repatriation of dividend and capital at the exit, tax holidays, cash incentives on the export of selected items, permanent resident permits on investment of 75,000 US dollars and citizenship on 500,000 US dollars,” she said.
She mentioned that Bangladesh is the 2nd largest exporter of readymade garments and clothing after China and there is a huge potential to further expand investment in RMG, especially in backward linkage industries.
The premier said high quality and price advantage of Bangladeshi leather products have already ensured 2-3 percent market share of world’s total export.
“We are exporting Information Technology and Information Technology Enabled Services to a number of countries, including major economies,” she said.
She said that the traditional ship-breaking industry in Bangladesh has turned into ship building industry. Now Bangladesh is exporting small and medium sized ships to many developed countries.
Using the advantage of the patent right waiver under TRIPS as an LDC, she said, Bangladesh is now exporting generic pharmaceutical products to 145 countries, including the US, EU countries, Gulf states and China.
“We have established one special Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) Park,” she added.
The prime minister also informed that Bangladesh is currently the 3rd largest freshwater fish and vegetable producer and the 4th largest rice producer in the world. “There are ample opportunities to invest in agro-processing industries in Bangladesh,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said in 2017-18, Bangladesh exported 36.67 billion US Dollars’ worth of goods and services. “We plan to raise the export volume to 72 billion US dollars by 2023-24,” she said.
“Aiming at rapid industrialization, our government is establishing 100 Special Economic Zones and at least one hi-tech park in each of the country’s 64 districts.”
She said that Bangladesh highly values the huge interest demonstrated by the Chinese investors in the country and as such it is setting up a special economic zone for the Chinese investors.
Moreover, the investment promotion agencies in Bangladesh such as BIDA and BEZA offer “One Stop Service” to the foreign investors.
“China is also a major development partner of Bangladesh. Majority of development projects in construction, traditional and alternative power generation and infrastructure development in Bangladesh are being implemented by Chinese companies.”
She said Bangladesh is now considered a “Development Miracle” and has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
The prime minister said the country has been maintaining a continued 7 percent plus growth rate for the last four consecutive years.
“This year we achieved 8.13 percent GDP growth rate, one of the highest in the world. This continued high economic growth has been reflected in Bangladesh’s remarkable achievements in social sectors. We achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and are making concerted efforts to achieve SDGs on time.”
She mentioned that Bangladesh is now on the right track to become a “Digital Bangladesh” and a middle-income country by 2021 when it will celebrate the golden jubilee of its independence.
“We are aspiring to become a developed country by 2041.”
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said that the McKinsey & Company has dubbed Bangladesh as one of the fastest growing sourcing destinations, emerging manufacturing and distribution hubs, and an expanding consumption economy.
“Price Waterhouse Coopers in a report listed Bangladesh among the top 32 countries which will be the biggest and most powerful economies in 2050. The report placed Bangladesh at the 23rd spot with USD 3.064 trillion GDP in terms of PPP in 2050,” she said.
Chairman of China International Contractors Association (CHINKA) Fang Qiuchen, Vice President of China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) Zhou Yong, Executive Vice President of Huawei Technologies Zeng Chenggang, Vice-President of Haier Electrical Appliances Diao Yunfeng, Chairman of China Railways International Group Company GAN Baixian and President of Overseas Operations of China Railway Construction Group Cao Baogang spoke at the roundtable.
Besides, FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim, Senior Vice-President Md Muntakim Ashraf, Vice-President Siddiqur Rahman and Vice-President of International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh (ICC-Bangladesh) Rokia Afzal Rahman addressed the roundtable.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and PM’s Private Investment and Industry Affairs Adviser Salman F Rahman were present on the occasion.
Briefing reporters after the roundtable, PM’s Speech Writer Md Nazrul Islam said the Chinese business leaders highly appreciated Bangladesh’s socioeconomic development under the leadership of the prime minister and expressed their interest to take part in it.
They also showed their interest to make investment in potential sectors in Bangladesh like textiles, engineering, manufacturing and construction sectors.
It was informed at the roundtable that nearly 400 Chinese companies are working in Bangladesh and senior officials of 26 companies took part in yesterday’s roundtable.
Later, CCPIT Chairperson Gao Yan paid a courtesy call on with the prime minister at the CCPIT Centre.