Foreigners can own 49pc stakes in services sector JV: Tofail
Foreign investors can now own up to 49 percent stakes in a services sector joint venture after the government modified the rules, according to Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed.
Previously, foreign investors were allowed a maximum of 40 percent ownership in a joint venture, which they deemed to be low.
Since 2014, they have been lobbying to the government for higher stakes, and the government finally listened to their request, Ahmed said at the third EU-Bangladesh Business Climate Dialogue.
The dialogue, which was held yesterday at the secretariat office in Dhaka, was attended by diplomats and businesses from the European Union.
A government high-up who was present at the dialogue told The Daily Star that although the minister said the ownership rules have been changed for the services sector as a whole, it is applicable only for logistic services.
The government changed the rule because a foreign shipping line with operations in Bangladesh had ownership disputes in 2014 and asked the government to resolve the disputes.
Eventually, the government changed the rules only in case of logistics services through a statutory regulatory order in 2014, the official said.
Under current rules, any foreign investor can own 100 percent of the venture in any sector except arms and ammunition and other defence equipment and machinery, forest plantation and mechanised extraction within the bounds of reserved forests, production of nuclear energy, and security printing (currency notes) and minting.
At the media briefing, Ahmed also said the government will give its decision on the extension of the Accord's tenure after May next year, when the platform's current staying term will come to an end.
Recently, the Accord sought a three-year extension of its tenure.
The minister also said he has asked the diplomats to urge the European retailers to ensure fair prices for apparel items sourced from Bangladesh.
Ahmed said garment exports from Bangladesh increased 10 percent in volume last fiscal year, but the prices remained the same or, in some cases, decreased.
The international retailers offer lower prices to Bangladeshi manufacturers using the excuse of Rana Palza building collapse, an example of poor compliance in the production process of apparel items, the minister said.
The diplomats said the retailers face problem in release of their garment samples from the airport in Dhaka. The delayed release of samples also delays production at the factories.
At the media briefing, Pierre Mayaudon, EU ambassador to Bangladesh, urged the government to simplify the regulatory rules and make those more reliable for European investors. The envoy also said the EU-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a proposed trade body, will be launched formally very soon.
The trade body's purpose would be to discuss the different trade-related issues between Bangladesh and the EU.
Some 54 percent of the country's exports last fiscal year were to the EU, where it has been enjoying zero-duty benefit since 1971.