ACCORDING to a report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on June 23, the country received 24 per cent more foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2013 compared to the preceding year. It now stands at US$1.6 billion. This is nearly a full 10 per cent higher than what was recorded in 2012. What is interesting to note here is that the flow has not slowed despite serious political upheaval the country witnessed last year. There is however, little to celebrate given that the No. 1 spot is held by neighbouring India which attracted a hefty U$28 billion in FDI over the same period.
A third of the FDI Bangladesh received last year was direct investment but the lion's share, i.e. nearly $700 million were reinvestments by foreign companies back into the undertakings they held in Bangladesh. Whatever may be the case, the trend is upward and the surprising part of the finding remains that violent politics did not dampen the spirit. This shows greater confidence on the part of foreign investors that Bangladesh holds the potential to be a country worth cultivating.
That said, serious impediments remain, which have effectively held back FDI inflow into the country. Besides drawbacks like inadequate infrastructure and power, a major hindrance remains availability of land for export processing zones. Although the Board of Investment is upbeat about FDI growth, the window of opportunity that has presented itself will remain open as long as potential investors feel that authorities are serious about dealing with and delivering on the multifaceted problems that is impeding business.