Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sought US investment in various potential sectors apart from the existing energy, banking and insurance sectors as Bangladesh is developing its infrastructure and power supply systems to facilitate FDI.
“The US is, of course, the largest investor in Bangladesh with stakes in energy, banking and insurance sectors. We invite US investment in other lucrative sectors like ICT, renewable energy, shipbuilding, automobile, light engineering, agro-processing, blue economy, tourism, knowledge-based hi-tech industries,” she said.
She made the call while delivering her speech at the Executive Business Roundtable of the US-Bangladesh Business Council at Lotte Palace in New York on Tuesday.
US-Bangladesh Business Council President Nisha Biswal presided over the event.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is investing heavily in infrastructure development and power supply to facilitate FDI in those areas and other promising sectors in Bangladesh.
She said Bangladesh is ready to start Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the US at an appropriate time.
As per the ADB Outlook 2019, she said, Bangladesh is the fastest growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region due to strong leadership, good governance, stable government, political stability, sound macroeconomic policy and right development priorities.
“Rapid urbanization, increasing consumption of electricity, the rapid growth of the middle class, growing connectivity with a massive regional market make Bangladesh an attractive investment destination,” Hasina said.
She said Bangladesh is ready to offer from its 100 Economic Zones, one exclusively for American companies, and also invites US investment in its 28 High-Tech Parks. “We’re constantly improving our physical, legal and financial infrastructures, and also connectivity as with Padma Bridge and Dhaka Metro-Rail.”
She mentioned that Bangladesh has the most liberal investment policy in South Asia and that foreign investment is protected by acts of parliament and bilateral treaties. “Bangladesh recognizes US’s energy sector cooperation and investment, which has contributed towards building our power generation capacity, now over 25,000 Megawatt.”
She also said Bangladesh is looking forward to US investment in renewable energy. “Our ICT sector is growing fast now with a billion-dollar export to 60 countries, with the US being the top destination. The ICT industry is expected to grow nearly fivefold to reach the five-billion-dollar mark with more than 600,000 free-lance IT professionals, Bangladesh is the right place to invest in the ICT sector.”
Talking about the demographic dividend and the government’s focus on developing skilled manpower, she said, it ensures that investors here get skilled human resources at competitive wages.
The prime minister also stressed the importance of mutual cooperation and collective efforts to attain shared prosperity in the post-Covid economic recovery. “I assure Bangladesh government’s wholehearted support to expand the economic partnership between our two nations. We also expect that the Business Council would convince the US government to undertake favourable economic and trade policies for Bangladesh.”
Regarding the Bangladesh-US friendship is based on common values and shared interests, she said: “It’s reflected in our expanding overall business relations. Our trade relations can be further strengthened with duty-free access and other trade privileges in the US market. Bangladesh is ready to commence FTA negotiations with the US at an appropriate time.”
Since Bangladesh will graduate from LDC status in 2026 to enhance its global competitiveness and expansion of its export base, it will appreciate US support, she said.
Meanwhile, she said, the US-Bangladesh Business Council may continue to play a catalytic role in raising the present annual bilateral trade of $9 billion to higher figures.
High-level representatives from US leading business companies, including Boeing, Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Mastercard were present at the roundtable.
From the Bangladesh side, Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed Joy, FBCCI President Jashim Uddin, MCCI President Nihad Kabir and BGMEA President Faruque Hassan, attended the program.
The event was presided over by Jay R Pryor, the vice president of Business Development at Chevron and the Council’s Chair of Board of Directors, and Nisha Biswal, who is also the senior vice president - South Asia, International Strategy and Global Initiatives at the US Chamber of Commerce.
The roundtable, which coincides with Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of independence and the inaugural engagement with Prime Minister Hasina of the recently launched Council – also featured the launch of the US-Bangladesh Energy Taskforce, co-chaired by Excelerate Energy and General Electric (GE), which will provide recommendations to both governments on the role the private sector can play to strengthen bilateral energy cooperation and development, according to US-Bangladesh Business Council.
The virtual roundtable – supported by Chevron, Excelerate Energy, General Electric, MetLife and Visa – convened high-level Bangladesh government officials as well as major US and Bangladeshi companies across sectors like energy, financial services, manufacturing, food and beverage, aerospace and defence, agriculture, healthcare, water, and supply chain as well as major Bangladeshi business associations.