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Thu, Dec 5, 2019 11:04 PM
Fri, Oct 04, 2019 2:02

Invest in Bangladesh and export to India, beyond: PM

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She urged them to set up industries in Bangladesh and export the products to vast markets in India and other Southeast Asian countries

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged big Indian investors to set up industries in Bangladesh and export the products to vast markets in India and Southeast 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 Southeast Asian countries, taking advantage of the improved connectivity between us,” she said on Friday.

The prime minister was addressing the inaugural session of India-Bangladesh Business Forum, held at the Hotel ITC Maurya in New Delhi, India.

Sheikh 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 Southeast 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,” Sheikh 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.

The prime minister 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 are in the process of establishing 100 Special Economic Zones,” she 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 will help broaden our exportable base,” she said.

Sheikh 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, she said.

In 2018, the prime minister said, Bangladesh was India’s eighth largest export destination with $8.8 billion export and Bangladesh’s export to India also crossed $1 billion-mark for the first time last year.

“So, the progress is visible, but there is 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, with Indian Prime Minister Modi calling it a “Sonali Adhyay”. “We are confident that in the coming years, we will further lift our relations to new heights.”

She said: “Despite profound geopolitical changes and challenges, we have been able to strengthen and consolidate our relations, based on the principles of mutual benefit and a shared future."

The cooperation between the two countries has expanded in all areas, including security, energy, connectivity, trade and investment, defence, culture and communication, she said.

The prime minister said Bangladesh has achieved a remarkable economic progress in the last decade, which is often recognized as a “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% in the last fiscal year and it is expected to be 8.3% in the current fiscal year, Sheikh Hasina said.

The foreign currency reserve rose to $33 billion and exports grew three times from 2005-06 to reach $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 are ready to provide all kinds of assistance to facilitate your endeavours. I would urge all of you [investors] to make the 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.”