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Dhaka Tribune

PM seeks partnership with US businesses to build Smart Bangladesh

  • PM Hasina invites US investments in different sectors
  • Says Bangladesh boasts the most liberal investment policies in the region
Update : 27 May 2024, 03:10 PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday sought the support of businesses in the United States in Bangladesh's journey towards becoming a developed and smart country by 2041.

"I call on you to remain with us as partners in our journey to a developed, prosperous and smart Bangladesh by 2041," she said while addressing a US-Bangladesh Business Council delegation at her official residence Ganabhaban in Dhaka.

"We aspire to become a smart nation by 2041. We need your support in increasing our global competitiveness and expanding our export base," she said.

The prime minister said Bangladesh will be graduating from a least developed to a developing country in 2026.

She said the government is determined to realize Bangabandhu’s dream as its efforts have led to Bangladesh's remarkable socioeconomic growth over the last 15 years.

"Now Bangladesh is globally acknowledged as a role model of socioeconomic development," she said.

This has also been possible due to good governance, rule of law and stability; investment in the rural economy; empowerment of women; and ICT, which led to Digital Bangladesh, she added.

Sheikh Hasina mentioned that the US has been a major economic and development partner for Bangladesh for decades.

Both countries have intensive engagements in many areas, particularly trade and investment, she said.

"Our shared aim is to achieve mutual benefit and prosperity for our people. This is manifested in our growing bilateral trade and people-to-people interaction," she continued.

The premier said the US is currently the largest single-country destination of Bangladesh’s exports, the largest source of foreign direct investment, and an important source of knowledge and technology.

She said she is optimistic that this economic engagement will be further enhanced in the coming days.

The US would become Bangladesh's long-term partner in achieving its development goals through trade, investment and technology transfer, and by creating a smooth and predictable supply chain for mutual benefits, she hoped.

"I, therefore, invite you to invest in our many vibrant and high-potential sectors, such as renewable energy, shipbuilding, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, light and heavy machinery, chemical fertilizers, ICT, marine resources, and medical equipment, among others," she said.

Sheikh Hasina also expressed her hope that the US-Bangladesh Business Council will continue to play a significant role in advancing trade and investment cooperation between the two friendly countries.

"Finally, I urge all US business leaders to explore business opportunities and invest in Bangladesh," she continued.

The prime minister said the government have been establishing 100 special economic zones (SEZs) and 28 hi-tech parks, and some of them are in operation.

Particularly in the IT sector, with over a million freelancing IT professionals, Bangladesh is the right destination for IT investments, she said.

She went on to say that the availability of a young, skilled and vibrant workforce at a competitive wage is a huge advantage.

"I remind you that Bangladesh has the most liberal investment policy status in the region. Also be assured that we are giving top priority to improving our investment environment," she said.

US-Bangladesh Business Council Board of Directors Chairman Steven Kobos and US-Bangladesh Business Council President Ambassador Atul Keshap, among others, were present.

‘Focus now on promoting economic and commercial relations’

Sheikh Hasina said the World Economic Forum has rated Bangladesh as the top South Asian country in women's empowerment and placed it among the top 10 countries globally in political empowerment of women.

Bangladesh is a market of 170 million people, and its location puts it in the heart of a market of 3 billion, she said.

Its increased connectivity with neighbouring countries makes it an ideal place for investment and trade in the region and beyond, she added.

"Our focus is now to promote economic and commercial relations with not only regional but also global partners, including the United States," she continued.

In the last 15 years, she said, her government has implemented several mega-infrastructure projects.

To name a few, there is the bridge over the Padma, the metro rail in Dhaka, the tunnel under the Karnaphuli River, expressways, a modern international airport in Dhaka, power plants, etc, she said.

Legal and financial infrastructures are also being enhanced, she said, adding that these have heightened our domestic and regional connectivity.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is currently one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

"It is now the 35th largest economy, projected to be the 25th by 2030. This growth is due to a vibrant private sector where US businesses have a significant contribution," she continued.

She also said that Bangladesh leads South Asia in many socioeconomic indicators.

"Due to planned development efforts, the poverty rate declined from 41% in 2005 to 18.7% in 2022 and the extreme poverty rate to 5.8%. In the last decade, GDP growth has been over 6%," she said.

Life expectancy is also remarkable, which has improved from 46.6 years at the time of independence in 1971 to 73.4 years now, she said.

"Now nearly all children are finishing primary school. Significantly, the female literacy rate is 73.25%, higher than the South Asian average of 65%," she added.

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