President Md Abdul Hamid yesterday sought foreign direct investment (FDI) from businesses, saying that government efforts have turned Bangladesh into a business and investment-friendly destination.
“Bangladesh welcomes foreign direct investment. The government of Bangladesh has been providing all-out support and taking steps in protecting FDI,” he said.
“We have introduced very liberal trade and investment policies in this regard. There are hardly any trade restrictions, tariff rates are being rationalised. To promote investment both direct and portfolio, we have very attractive and competitive package,” said the president.
He said Bangladesh wants to be an active partner in the world economic community.
“We are one of the most open economies among the developing countries and wish to continue the process,” Hamid said.
The president spoke while inaugurating a three-day Asia-Pacific Conference on “Financing for Inclusive and Sustainable Development” at InterContinental Dhaka.
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Bangladesh is organising the summit in collaboration with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), the Asian Development Bank’s Trade Finance Programme, and the London Institute of Banking and Finance.
“We are also working actively to attain the Agenda 2030 or Sustainable Development Goals. The main challenge for Bangladesh as well as other developing countries is to fill the financing gap,” the president also said. “It is not possible for a single country to mobilise the required financing. That’s why we have been urging for mutual cooperation among the nations,” Hamid also added.
Domestic resource mobilisation coupled with enhanced participation of the private sector and effective international development assistance can ensure the required financing, Hamid said.
However, proper utilisation of the resources is also very important. Against the backdrop, the conference is a timely initiative, he said.
“We have already created enabling and friendly environment for business and investment. Therefore, FDI jumped by 58 percent in 2018 from 2017. Our investment, trade and industrial policies have also been aligned accordingly.”
“To attract more and sustainable foreign and domestic investment, the government of Bangladesh has decided to set up 100 economic zones in the country. Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority is working in this regard,” Hamid said.
Around 100 delegates, including ministers, from 30 countries are scheduled to participate in the summit. The event has been organised to celebrate the centenary of the ICC and 25th anniversary of ICC Bangladesh.
Delivering the welcome speech, ICC Bangladesh President Mahbubur Rahman said mobilisation of sufficient funds to achieve SDGs is a major challenge, especially for least developed countries.
According to the UN-ESCAP estimation, financing SDGs would require an additional investment worth $1.5 trillion per year in the Asia and the Pacific region, which is 5 percent of the GDP of the entire region, he said.
He said almost one-fourth of the time to meet the SDGs had elapsed. The LDCs would need 16 percent of their GDP to finance the SDGs, he said.
This clearly suggests that in addition to building national capacity, regional resource mobilisation is also needed, he said. Financing SDGs needs unprecedented collaboration and cooperation between public and private sectors facilitated by multilateral development banks, he said.
UN Secretary General António Guterres and his predecessor Ban Ki-moon delivered video messages.
Guterres said the financing was essential to meet the 2030 Agenda or SDGs. He laid emphasis on developing women entrepreneurs and micro-level businesses. Ban Ki-moon said financial inclusion could support the overall economy to achieve the SDG.
In a speech, UN-Escap Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana said innovative ways should be explored to mobilise financial resources to implement the SDGs.
She focused on addressing three issues, including mobilising additional domestic resources, infrastructure financing and enhancing financial inclusion using technology.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal as a special guest said concerted efforts of the world community was required to meet the SDG.
He also focused on addressing the climate change vulnerability of Bangladesh.
Special guest Foreign Minister AK Momen said mobilising domestic resources through imposition of wealth tax, combating tax evasion and strong government-private sector partnerships were required to arrange funds for implementing the SDGs.
ICC Bangladesh Vice-President Rokia Afzal Rahman delivered the vote of thanks while Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman was another special guest.