Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday invited Belarusian entrepreneurs to massively invest in Bangladesh availing themselves of attractive incentives, cheap labour and a huge domestic market of around 160m people.
“We welcome you as our partners in business and development, sharing benefits, profits and gains,” she told a business council meeting jointly organised by FBCCI of Bangladesh and Federation of Business, Commerce and Industry of Belarus at Minsk National Library.
Belarus Prime Minister Mikhail V Myasnikovich, FBCCI President Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed and President of Belarus Chambers of Commerce and Industry Mikhail Mialikov also spoke on the occasion.
The Belarus prime minister urged the Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to invest in his country and underscored the need for setting up leather and footwear industries in joint ventures. He requested his Bangladesh counterpart to reduce customs duty alongside taking holistic approach for business development, transfer of technology and training for professionals.
Mikhail V Myasnikovich offered Belarus's assistance in construction of nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.
In response, Sheikh Hasina said her government would give on-arrival visa facilities to Belarus businessmen and offered that Bangladesh could import capital machinery like tractors from Belarus.
Hasina mentioned that the country’s business sector - with its innovative entrepreneurs, efficient managers, and workforce at affordable wages - forms a population where 60% is below the age of 40, offering tremendous scope for lucrative business.
Hasina said: “Development of connectivity with neighbours is now an ongoing process and when completed would make Bangladesh the economic hub of the region, bustling with business activities.”
She said Bangladesh enjoys an open market economy and the private sector is the main stimulus for the growth. Noting that Bangladesh now a lucrative destination for foreign investment, she said that the present industrial policy offers special fiscal incentives in agriculture, food processing, shipbuilding, renewable energy, tourism, ICT goods and services, high-end garments, pharmaceuticals and ceramics sectors, which are also encouraging investment in the country and exports in many countries.
“Our Public Private Partnership policy invites investments in building infrastructures, power stations, a deep seaport and an international airport. Seven special economic zones in seven different areas are being established with all facilities for FDI,” she told the meeting.
The prime minister said Bangladesh’s FDI policies amongst others offer corporate tax holidays for 5 to 7 years, legal protection in the case of nationalisation, full repatriation of capital and dividends, concessionary duty on the import of machinery, export incentives, allowing 100% foreign equity and unrestricted exit policy.
She noted that Bangladesh has been maintaining Ba3 in Moody’s credit rating and BB- in Standard & Poor’s credit rating for the 4th year. FDI in Bangladesh rose to US$1.3bn in 2012, the highest-ever in the country, which is 14% more than $1.13bn in 2011.
Citing that Bangladesh is strategically located as a bridge between South and South East Asia and is also close to China, she said the country’s local market of 160m and the region of 3bn people are also increasing in purchasing power and consumption.
Besides, Sheikh Hasina mentioned the country’s duty- and quota-free access of products to the EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India and other countries, providing a competitive edge to investors in Bangladesh.
She said that the Public Private Partnership Policy of Bangladesh invites investments in building infrastructures, power stations, a deep seaport and an international airport.
The government has also taken steps to establish seven special economic zones in seven different areas of the country with all facilities for FDI, she said.
The Prime Minister also referred to the presence of free press, vibrant civil society, independent judiciary and statutory bodies like the Commissions on Election, Human Rights, Information and Anti-corruption, and ensures good governance, maintenance of human rights and the rule of law in Bangladesh.
She also elaborated her government’s achievements on power and energy, education, reaching of health care and ICT services to the rural people.
About the expansion of ICT facilities allover Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said some 4,582 Union Information and Service Centers are now connected by internet based network system to provide instant services in health, agriculture, banking, education and other areas.
Later, the Prime Minister went round different sections of the National Library.
After attending the business council meeting, the prime minister visited the state-run Minsk Automobile Plant. Belarus Prime Minister accompanied Sheikh Hasina and briefed her about the plant activities.