The prime minister's adviser urged businessmen in Bangladesh to prepare themselves to face the challenges of a new normal after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Salman F Rahman, the prime minister's adviser on private industry and investment, has emphasised the importance of preparing to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Malaysia.
He urged business people in Bangladesh to prepare themselves to face the challenges of the new normal after the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The challenges are poised to be created as the world trade and investment scenario will be extremely tough," he said.
Salman Rahman made the remarks at a webinar titled "Investment Opportunities in Bangladesh" on Tuesday.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) and Bangladesh-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI) jointly organised the event with Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam in the chair. Malaysian acting high commissioner in Bangladesh Amir Farid Abu Hasan, BMCCI President Raquib Mohammad Fakhrul and its former president Syed Nurul Islam also spoken at the discussion.
He said Bangladesh's tax to GDP ratio is much lower compared to any other countries in South Asia. "Widen the tax net and lower the tax rate in the upcoming plan of the finance ministry to balance and maintain the economic growth of the country," the adviser urged the authorities concerned.
Furthermore, he said the digitalisation of around 135 OSS (One Stop Service) processes will increase the tax collection rate–which is another important agenda of the government. Salman Raman said that the government is getting ready to sign FTAs with 13 countries, and Malaysia is currently among the top four to five countries on that list. He said that this FTA will take the bilateral trade relationship with Malaysia to new heights.
For additional trade exchanges between the two countries, the PM's adviser has recommended utilising all connections with the Malaysian business community and Bangladeshi diaspora–which has been successfully doing business in Malaysia for more than two decades.
He said that the government is working closely on creating an investment-friendly environment and setting up new economic zones.
"It is true that we have come so far because of the leadership, wisdom and vision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She instilled in us a belief in Bangladesh and feeling for Bangladesh as well," he continued.
"The prime minister is highly focused on new investment in Bangladesh and she has clearly told us to assign the same level of importance to both foreign and domestic investors," said Salman.
Malaysia is the ninth largest investor in Bangladesh, comprising a foreign direct investment of $806 million till December last year; mainly in the telecommunication, computer software and IT sectors.
Amir Farid Abu Hasan said Malaysia-Bangladesh bilateral relations, which started 48 years ago, are getting stronger as the leaders continue to engage under the parameters of the new normal.
"As an open economy, Malaysia is vulnerable to the changes in market sentiment, including the economies of its major trading partners," he added.
Former president of BMCCI Syed Nurul Islam said there is a big trade gap between the two countries.
"We cannot reduce the trade gap just by exporting prawn, shrimp or ready-made garments to Malaysia," he said. In 2019, trade between Malaysia and Bangladesh was recorded at around $2.6 billion, an increase from the previous year's record of $2.4 billion. For the period from January to July 2020, trade has lessened but remains robust despite the challenges of Covid-19.
Bangladesh was Malaysia's 30th largest trading partner and ranked second among South Asian nations.
Bangladesh is also Malaysia's 20th largest export destination, signifying the growing importance of Bangladesh as a soaring economy.