Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday (August 23, 2023) invited South African entrepreneurs to make investments in Bangladesh that seeks to become a trillion-dollar economy and a fully developed 'Smart Bangladesh' by 2041.

"Bangladesh progresses toward prosperity. We want you to join our journey of development. Do invest in Bangladesh; we are confident that your investment will be primed for success, and we are fully prepared for a sustainable partnership," she said.

The prime minister was speaking at the Bangladesh Trade and Business Summit in South Africa jointly organised by Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) at the Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Center.

"I have a dream; the 170 million people of Bangladesh have a dream. And that is to become a trillion-dollar economy and a fully developed smart nation by 2041," she added.

Hasina assured that investment in Bangladesh is secure due to consistently high returns.

"Moreover, our government ensures a business-friendly and stable atmosphere that guarantees your investment's success," said the PM.

She confidently stated that Bangladesh promises a secure and prosperous future for global investors.

Currently, she mentioned, Bangladesh has the most open Foreign Direct Investment policies in South Asia which include a liberalised industrial policy, one-stop service, an allowance for 100 per cent foreign ownership, an easy exit policy, a 15-year tax exemption, a VAT exemption for imported machinery, streamlined services, and more.

"We welcome investors worldwide, particularly from South Africa, to explore the numerous investment prospects within Bangladesh. This is the perfect time to acquaint yourselves with what Bangladesh offers. This is the time to know Bangladesh better and to invest in its future," she said.

The prime minister said that over the last five decades, Bangladesh and South Africa have built a strong and friendly relationship based on mutual respect, shared values, cultural ties, and common beliefs.

She said that this bond has been strengthened by growing trade connections. Both countries have similar paths of development, making collaboration and growth feasible.

But, she mentioned that despite the significant potentials, the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and South Africa was only USD 316.83 million last year, falling short of its full potentials.

"This presents a promising opportunity for collaboration, given the export and import potential of both nations," she said.

PM Hasina said that she is confident that ample collaboration opportunities exist for both nations, involving business communities and trade organisations.

"Beyond existing bilateral mechanisms, we're enthusiastic about establishing a 'Joint Committee on Trade and Investment' and negotiating a 'Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement with South Africa'."

She said that Bangladesh offers opportunities across sectors like ICT, electronics, infrastructure, textiles, tourism, heavy industry, and small industries.

"Our government is committed to facilitating smooth business operations. Bangladesh is ready to welcome prospective South African investors," she told the conference.

She said that organisations like the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority, Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority, Bangladesh High Tech Park Authority, and Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission, all support foreign investors for optimal returns.

She said that as the economy is growing, Bangladesh is poised for substantial long-term financing. Amid the 4th Industrial Revolution, AI, and Venture Capital, Bangladesh is pursuing "Financial Connectivity" globally, prioritising "Investment Banking" over traditional Consumer Banking.

In this connection, she said that the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) is elevating the capital market for essential long-term financing. In 2020, the stock markets outperformed regional peers, with USD 61 billion in market capitalisation, or 16.8 percent of GDP.

For financial progress, Sheikh Hasina said, we have expanded our bond market, introducing Sukuk, Green Bonds, ETFs, Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Impact Funds, diversifying investment opportunities. Soon, we are going to include derivative products in our capital markets, which will help minimise investment risks through hedging.

Portfolio investments have also been made flawless through enhanced facilities for repatriation of the principal and returns without any kind of approval, she added.

She said that the significant Bangladeshi population in South Africa forms a strong base.

"Thanks to expatriates for contributing to our economy. We urge you to invest more in our growth," she said.

She also said that a joint business forum between the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and the South African Chamber is also planned.

The prime minister said that the robust private sector of Bangladesh will keep providing a great range of opportunities for those who invest in the country's economy.

"We are confident that we are heading full speed forward on the path of the 4th industrial revolution."

Terming people of the country as the heart of strength, she said that about 55 million youth with the requisite skills are committed to accomplishing the task ahead.

"Our fortunate position is enhanced by connections on both regional and global levels. Additionally, a growing domestic market and an expanding consumer class further strengthen this demographic benefit," she said.

She said, with a population exceeding 1.5 billion, Southern Africa is currently experiencing rapid urbanisation and economic growth.

"This provides favorable opportunities for Bangladesh to expand its exports, particularly in sectors like textiles, ready-made garments (RMG), pharmaceuticals, and agricultural products."

She mentioned that in the past decade, Bangladesh has shifted its focus towards untapped markets in Africa. Both government officials and business leaders in Bangladesh recognise the potential of African economies and the benefits of stronger trade relationships.

"With a growing middle class, an increasing population, and rising consumer demands, Africa becomes an attractive market for Bangladeshi exports," she stated.

Hasina said that to fortify its diplomatic connections and pave the way for future economic openings, Bangladesh has formally adopted the 'Look Africa' policy.

"Simultaneously, Bangladesh is actively exploring avenues to procure essential natural resources and raw materials from African nations," she said.

This category includes the requisite raw materials for Bangladesh's growing industries, spanning minerals, petroleum products, cotton, agricultural products, and more, she said.

The Prime Minister said that the government is establishing 100 Special Economic Zones, 109 Hi-Tech and Software Technology Parks, and IT Training and Incubation Centres across the country to facilitate commerce and industrialisation.

"The recent inauguration of the Padma Bridge and Matarbari Deep Sea port will further amplify both external connectivity and internal trade, thus acting as catalysts for growth."

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure of South Africa Sihle Zikalala spoke at the event.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Prime Minister's Private Investment and Industries Affairs Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman were, among others, present at the venue.

BIDA Executive Chairman (Senior Secretary) Lokmn Hossain Miah was also present while Chairman (Senior Secretary) of Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) Professor Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam gave brief descriptions about Bangladesh's economy and the government's efforts to expedite foreign direct investment in Bangladesh.

Democracy a cornerstone of progress

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on the unhindered democratic process in the country for the sake of non-stop development.

"Development is only possible through the democratic trend. That should be continued so none can hinder the advancement of Bangladesh," she said.

The premier said this while delivering her introductory speech at the "Bangladesh Envoys Conference'' organised by Bangladesh ambassadors stationed in African countries at Radisson Blu Hotel Sandton.

She said that Bangladesh has registered unprecedented development in the last 14 years and a half due to the uninterrupted democratic system in the country.

"The development spree since 2008 is because there has been continuous democracy in the country, there is stability in the government, and we were able to do the right thing with the right decision. That's why we could attain this achievement," she said.

Hasina mentioned that for 21 years since the August 15 carnage in 1975 Bangladesh could not make any progress.

"Whenever Awami League came to power (after 21 years) it successfully ensured the country's development," she said.

She also said that Bangladesh now has the capability and capacity to face any sort of calamities - manmade and natural.

"For this sanction (due to Ukraine-Russia war) prices of everything shot up causing inflation. This is a great problem. We all have to face this problem unitedly," she said.

She asked the Bangladeshi envoys stationed in African countries to give special attention to remittance inflows in the coming days.

She also asked them to expand the country's trade and commerce in new markets and destinations across the globe.

She put emphasis on enhancing bilateral relations and business with the African countries.

The PM also asked the Bangladeshi envoys to work for sending more Bangladeshi skilled manpower to African countries, taking measures to increase remittances and giving special care of the Bangladeshi peacekeepers working in the UN mission in the African countries as they have brightened Bangladesh image globally.

She directed the envoys to take required measures to make sure Bangladesh can march ahead on the world stage keeping its head high.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah were present on the dais while Foreign Secretary Masusd Bin Momen moderated the conference.

Bangladeshi High Commissioner in South Africa, Noor-E-Helal Saifur Rahman, Ambassador to Morocco,Mohammad Shahadat Hossain, Ambassador to Egypt Md. Monirul Islam, High Commission to Mauritius, Rezina Ahmed, High Commission to Nigeria Masudur Rahman, Ambassador to Algiers, Muhammad Zulqar Nain, High Commissioner to Kenya, Tareque Muhammad, Ambassador to, Libya Major General Abul Hasnat Mohammad Khairul Bashar, and Ambassador to Sudan, Tareq Ahmed, were also present in the conference.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts