Tuesday, June 25, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Investment is about more than just zones

The regulatory environment of facilitating investment has been in desperate need of cleaning up

Update : 20 May 2024, 08:44 AM

With Bangladesh on-track to shedding its tag as a least developed country and entering the realm of “developing” status, one of the challenges that the government needs to tackle is ensuring a healthy investment climate. Given the myriad challenges that graduating to developing status entails, a thriving investment scene is imperative.

As things stand, the country harbours 100 economic zones which can house businesses and companies of various scope. But while space is less of any issue, Bangladesh has historically fared incredibly poorly when it comes to the ease of actually doing business, and this applies to both local and foreign businesses.

To that end, while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent plea to local businesses to invest in our economic zones is welcome, what our investment climate actually needs is to tear down the many barriers which continue to keep companies from being able to do business efficiently.

Issues such as rampant corruption, needless bureaucracy, and inefficient file approval mechanisms have long discouraged businesses from being able to invest in Bangladesh to any meaningful degree. The regulatory environment of facilitating investment has been in desperate need of cleaning up given the government’s desire to make Bangladesh more appealing to investors, who often seek efficiency and clarity above everything else.

Economic zones are a good start, but with these establishments it is more about quality than quantity -- it is imperative to make sure that the investment facilitated by these zones helps diversify our exports and lays the foundation for a skill-based manufacturing sector that can stand a chance to compete globally.

Essentially, we need to move away from the notion that Bangladesh is worth investing in because of cheap labour.

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