UAE-based investors have lined up a number of new projects including five free economic zones for investment in Bangladesh that were discussed at the second edition of Bangladesh Economic Forum held in Dubai yesterday.
Salman F Rahman, Adviser to Prime Minister on Private Industry and Investment, met with a number of large UAE-based business groups at the forum, who have expressed interest in developing Economic Zones, Hi-Tech Parks in Bangladesh, according to a press release received in Dhaka.
“I am pleased to see strong and genuine interest among the UAE-based investors – both UAE national and foreign business groups – in investing in Bangladesh economy,” Salman F Rahman, who works closely with Bangladesh prime minister, said.
Bangladesh is developing 100 economic zones and 28 hi-tech parks to accelerate the flow of foreign direct investment that jumped 68 percent to US$3.61 billion last year, he added.
The country requires US$24 billion investment in infrastructure annually, to achieve its Vision 2021, according to Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Transaction activity in infrastructure more than doubled to $31.4 billion in 2017, increasing further to reach US$46 billion in 2018, AIIB said. Bangladesh needs a total of US$320 billion investment only in infrastructure if it wants to become the world's 30th largest economy by 2030.
Salman F Rahman led a 20-member government delegation comprising officials of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA) at the 2nd edition of Bangladesh Economic Forum held at Conrad Dubai Hotel.
As many as 25 fresh investment projects were tabled at Bangladesh Economic Forum where investors discussed their projects with the PM adviser and the visiting Bangladesh delegation. These projects are in addition to the $10 billion worth of investment planned by UAE-based investors into Bangladesh, according to data compiled by Bangladesh Economic Forum.
“We have seen large investments coming from China, Japan and the United States. We believe, investors from the GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, should take advantage of the lower cost of investment, operations and higher return on investment in Bangladesh,” Salman F Rahman said.
“Investment from the GCC and the Arab World will help Bangladesh economy achieve a higher growth rate and we are more than ready to welcome them,” he said, adding, “Bangladesh government and the private sector businesses are developing 100 economic zones and 28 hi-tech parks in Bangladesh. These are good opportunities for UAE investors who have championed the concept of free economic zones.”
BIDA, BEZA and BHTPA – the three Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) of Bangladesh Government participated in such an international investment conference in the Gulf for the first time – undertaken by Bangladesh Economic Forum, a private sector initiative of the UAE-base Non-Resident Bangladeshi professionals and entrepreneurs.
More than 300 government officials, business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs participated in the day-long international investment conference, aimed at strengthening the flow of trade and investment between the UAE and Bangladesh.
Bangladeshis are major investors in the UAE economy where more than 50,000 businesses are owned and successfully run by Bangladeshi expatriates who employ more than 150,000 people collectively.
Bangladesh economy grew at a rate of 7.9 percent in FY18. Bangladesh is on a growth overdrive that will see its economy growing at 8 percent plus in the next few years which will make it the fastest growing economy in the world. In order to sustain 8 percent plus GDP growth, Bangladesh needs massive foreign and domestic investment which will create employment and ensure sustainable development.
The World Bank estimates that Bangladesh must spend $7.4 billion to $10 billion a year until 2020 to bring its power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard needed to serve its growing population.
“The UAE and the GCC countries could be major sources for investment into Bangladesh. Time has come for Bangladesh to expedite investment opportunities from the UAE and help build the country’s future,” said the PM adviser, adding that UAE investors could benefit from the lowest labour cost and very low operational costs.
“Our brothers and investor friends from the UAE and Gulf should benefit from the growing opportunities in Bangladesh,” Salman F Rahman added. “In the coming years, we are going to strengthen our communication to the UAE’s large corporates on exploring the possibility of increasing their investment in to Bangladesh,” he said.
Bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the UAE is set to reach a new level this year with the US$10 billion worth of investment pledged by UAE investors into Bangladesh’s energy, ports, power and infrastructure sectors that will help fuel the economic growth of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh and the UAE signed four memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on establishing a port, industrial park, supply and setting up a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, power plants, and a special economic zone in Bangladesh, during a three-day visit by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the UAE in February this year.
Addressing the forum, Muhammad Imran, Bangladesh Ambassador to the UAE, said, “These investments will strengthen the bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and the UAE and will deepen our economic relations to a strategic partnership level.”
“Bangladesh economy last year grew at 7.9 percent and we expect it to grow at 8.3 percent this year. This will make Bangladesh the fastest growing economy in the world and we would like our brothers in the UAE to benefit from our growth in the coming years. It is heartening to see that our relationship is moving towards the right strategic direction where both countries could be partners in each other’s economic growth,” he added.
Shaikh Abdul Karim, an investment advisor and Member of Bangladesh Economic Forum, said, “As a private advisory group, Bangladesh Economic Forum is ready to bridge the gap between Bangladeshi project owners and UAE investors as well as the gap between the public sector investment promotion agencies and the investor community and help support all investment projects.
Bangladesh Economic Forum works to forge stronger relationship among the public sector policy makers and private sector investors and business community that will help accelerate the economic growth of the GCC countries and Bangladesh who are fast-tracking investment projects that are crucial for the economic development of all stakeholders.