PM seeks US investment in ICT, renewable energy
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sought US investment in Bangladesh's promising sectors such as information and communication technology (ICT), renewable energy, agro-processing, blue economy, tourism and hi-tech parks.
"We invite US investment in lucrative sectors such as ICT, renewable energy, shipbuilding, automobile, light engineering, agro-processing, blue economy, tourism and knowledge based hi-tech industries," she said.
She was presenting the keynote speech at a business roundtable, joining virtually from the Lotte New York Palace on Tuesday (New York local time).
The Prime Minister hoped that the US-Bangladesh Business Council will continue to play a decisive role in raising the present annual bilateral trade of US$ 9 billion to higher figures.
She also expressed her expectation that Bangladesh's trade relations can be further strengthened with duty-free access and other trade privileges in the US market.
US-Bangladesh Business Council organised the virtual roundtable, titled "Bangladesh Forward: The Frontier for Growth", in honour of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
PM's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed spoke at the roundtable while Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam were also present there.
The business council's President Nisha Biswal, who moderated the roundtable, made opening remarks. US-Bangladesh Business Council members and US and Bangladesh business leaders also took part in it.
Sheikh Hasina told the roundtable that Bangladesh has the most liberal investment policy in South Asia and that foreign investment is protected by acts of parliament and bilateral treaties.
The premier added, "The demographic dividend, and our focus on developing skilled manpower ensures that investors here get skilled human resources at competitive wages."
She said Bangladesh's investment is heavily on improving the infrastructure and power supply to facilitate FDI in the mentioned and other promising sectors.
She added that the USA is the largest investor in Bangladesh with stakes in energy, banking and insurance sectors.
The premier said Bangladesh has recognised US' energy sector cooperation and investment, which has contributed to building Dhaka's power generation capacity that is now over 25,000MW.
"We are also looking forward to US investment in renewable energy," she said.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh's ICT sector is growing fast now with a billion-dollar export to 60 countries as the US is the top destination.
The ICT industry is expected to grow nearly five folds to reach US$ 5 billion mark by 2025, she continued.
She went on saying that with more than 600,000 freelance IT professionals, Bangladesh is the right place to invest in ICT sector.
The Prime Minister said that 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.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is also ready to commence free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the US at an appropriate time.
Mentioning that the Bangladesh-US friendship is based on common values and shared interests, she said, "It's reflected in our expanding overall business relations."
The Premier said Bangladesh will appreciate US support since Bangladesh will graduate from LDC status in 2026, to enhance its global competitiveness and expansion of its export base.
Sheikh Hasina recalled the launching of the US-Bangladesh Business Council on April 6, 2021, adding that one of its first acts was to send a shipment of Covid-19 medical equipment to Bangladesh.
"We are constantly improving our physical, legal and financial infrastructures, and also connectivity as with Padma Bridge, Dhaka Metro-Rail etc," she continued.
Regarding post-Covid economic recovery, the premier said that mutual cooperation and collective efforts are essential to attain shared prosperity.
She assured Bangladesh Government's whole-hearted support to expand economic partnership between two nations.
"We also expect that the Business Council would convince the US Government to undertake favourable economic and trade policies for Bangladesh," she said.
She further said, "We consider this council as an important partner in fulfilling our core undertaking of improving our people's lives."
Referring to the ADB Outlook 2019, she mentioned that Bangladesh is the fastest growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region.
She continued that the ADB attributes this to strong leadership, good and stable governance, political stability, sound macro-economic policy and right development priorities.
"Rapid urbanisation, increasing consumption of electricity, rapid growth of middle class, growing connectivity with massive regional market makes Bangladesh an attractive investment destination," she said.
This year, the premier said Bangladesh is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Noting that Bangabandhu envisioned Bangladesh as a prosperous "Golden Bengal", free of deprivation and economic disparity, she said, "Our government's goal is to realise his cherished dream."
The Prime Minister said that the world has also recognised the strength and resilience of Bangladesh's economy that had withstood the perils of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UN has, therefore, this year made its final recommendation on Bangladesh's graduation from LDC status, she said.