Faruk courts greater Malaysian investment
Commerce Minister Faruk Khan has called upon Malaysian investors to undertake new investment ventures in the country's fast growing manufacturing, services and infrastructure sectors, according to a message received yesterday.
The minister made the plea while addressing the Sixth World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
Khan said Malaysia is the fifth largest investor in Bangladesh after Norway, UK, USA and South Korea. There is enough scope for further investment although some 70 Malaysian companies have already invested in Bangladesh, he added.
“Relocation of labour-intensive industries such as textile and accessories, furniture processing, and agro-processing from Malaysia to Bangladesh might be the most promising options," Khan said.
He also said investment in the service sectors like tourism, healthcare and infrastructures like toll roads, bridges, power and gas generation could also be an attraction to Malaysian investors.
Khan said he expects Bangladesh would attain a high rate of economic development making Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2021 on the golden jubilee of its independence.
“The Bangladesh government looks forward to expand its export basket and invite more foreign direct investments.”
Faruk Khan said that the country's GDP grew 5.9 percent in 2008-09 and the current budget forecasts a 5.5 percent annual growth for 2009-10.
“Apart from GDP, other key economic variables have shown minimal fluctuations in recent months, when most of the Asian economies registered negative growth.”
He said the country's imports and exports expanded by 4.06 percent and 10.31 percent compared to 2007-08 while the textile and readymade garment sector projected a lower growth.
Sectors leaders expect that within the next five years, Bangladesh exports in textile and RMG will be around $20-25 billion as her competitors are losing their edge due to higher labour cost and Bangladeshi improvisation in the quality and marketing.
He said remittance is the second-most important source of foreign exchange earnings after textiles. “We expect around $12 billion earnings from remittances this year.”
The Bangladeshi minister said Chittagong port could easily serve as an entry port and business gateway to South Asia, especially for Nepal, Bhutan, seven northeast Indian states (Assam, Meghalaya, Monipur, Arunachal, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura) and Myanmar.
“Bangladesh's trade with OIC member countries still remains insignificant, at $3.1 billion (export of $600 million with import of $2.5 billion) for 2008-09."
Besides, foreign investment is also desired for high technology products to help import substitution or industries that will be labour and technology intensive.
Infrastructure development is another area where Bangladesh requires a massive investment apart from electricity generation.
“Bangladesh also wants to improvise its rail transportation, widen its national highways and modernise operations of its two seaports at Chittagong and Mongla to facilitate its cargo movements,” he added.
The commerce minister also invited the Malaysians for visiting Bangladesh with a multi-sector business delegation and to evaluate the investment potentials in the country.