Dhaka, Bangladesh
Political stability, sound infrastructure keys to wooing FDI

Political stability, sound infrastructure keys to wooing FDI

Political stability, sound law and order situation, transparent and efficient bureaucracy, improved infrastructure and prompt and rightly decision making of the government are some of the important components in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bangladesh and everywhere in the world, said Ershad Rana, director of France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while talking to The News Today at his office in the city recently. Ershad Rana, also chairman of Dawn Group, said that The business community assesses the attractiveness of a country before deciding where they will invest. The chamber is working hard in order to promote Bangladesh as a market of opportunities, but this needs time. I am sure that Bangladesh can repeat the success-story of the garment industry in other fields, in particular digital economy. I am confident that diversification will create opportunities to bring more French investment here in the coming years, he said. In 2016, trade between France and Bangladesh totalled €2.689 billion with a significant trade deficit for France of €2.2bn. Exports to Bangladesh fell 34.7% compared with 2015 due to the drop in sales of agricultural products and currently stand at €189 million, while France's imports increased by over 40% over two year reaching €2.5 billlion. Clothing accounts for the vast majority of imports from Bangladesh due to the European Union's Everything But Arms initiative. France is now Bangladesh's fifth largest export destination, he said adding that in continuation of our ever-expanding bilateral economic relations, Thales Alenia Space, a Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer, was awarded the contract in 2015 to build and launch the Bangabandhu Satellite, first of its kind for Bangladesh. French FDI in Bangladesh was USD 14.64 million in 2016-17, he said adding that "our chamber encourages French companies to come up with investments." He said Bangladesh is a huge market of 160 million people located between south and southeast Asia. Its geographical location has made Bangladesh the natural gateway between the ASEAN and SAARC regions, he added. On investment environment in Bangladesh, he said French entrepreneurs will look at security, improved infrastructure and level of corruption before investing here. According to the Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh's economy grew by 7.1% in 2016, the fastest expansion in 30 years. It was also the sixth year in a row that GDP growth was greater than 6%. Most analysts expect this run to continue. In 1991, well over 40% of the population lived in extreme poverty. Today, the World Bank says that less than 14% still does. That is, about 50 million fewer Bangladeshis are in extreme poverty as a result of the improving economy. The country is also easily the poorest of the world's 10 most populous. Given its size and the depth of its poverty, the country's recent economic boom must rank as one of the world's happiest economic stories right now. In 2015, trade between France and Bangladesh totaled €2.423 billion, up by over 30 % compared to 2014. Imports of France from Bangladesh increased by 25.1 % to reach €2.1 billion. We import mainly garment. As for trade from France to Bangladesh, it increased by 91% last year. French exports to Bangladesh are driven by electric and electronic goods, hardware, but also chemicals, perfumes and cosmetics, as well as pharmaceuticals and agro-food products. Becoming a more diversified economy, Bangladesh will need a larger range of equipment to sustain its diversification. This should widen the range of business opportunities between France and Bangladesh. It will also widen the possibilities for Bangladesh to diversify its exports to France. Of course it will take time, and there may be some ups and downs, but our bilateral Chamber of Commerce is performing well and I am optimistic. Bangladesh is on the course of becoming a mid-income country by 2021 and a member of developed countries by 2041, said Ershad Rana, director of France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while talking to The News Today at his office in the city recently. Ershad Rana, director of France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the present government wants to turn Bangladesh into a mid-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041. The country's agriculture sector witnessed major development in the recent years with attaining self-reliance in meeting demand of staple food-grain, Ershad Rana, also chairman of Dawn Group, said. "The agriculture sector is now in a better position due to some effective policy measures and timely support by the government," he said. Bangladesh's economy posted a GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of 7.28 percent, a foreign currency reserve of $32.1 billion, and exports worth $38.50 billion in 2016-17 fiscal year. Per capita income has surged to $1,610 when the inflation was 5.03 percent in December, the lowest in past 53 months. Poverty has been slashed from 57% to 22% in less than two decades, while life expectancy increased to 72 years. The lives of 162 million people are being transformed into a digitalized knowledge-based society thanks to the present government's 'Digital Bangladesh' vision. The size and expenditure of the Annual Development Programme (ADP) has increased manifold during the two terms of the present government with the country attaining the capacity of undertaking and implementing transformational mega projects. The country's telecom sector has witnessed a robust growth as the total number of mobile phone subscriptions reached 143.106 million at the end of November, 2017, while the total number of internet clients rose to 80.166 millions. Ershad Rana, also chairman of Dawn Group, said Bangladesh tops the South Asian countries in gender parity and ranks 7th globally in political empowerment of women, according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2016. The work on the mega projects like Padma Bridge, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the Metro Rail, the Rampal Power Plant, Payra Seaport, Matarbari Power Plant, Padma Bridge Rail Link and Dohazari-Cox's Bazar-Gundum Rail Line have got a momentum. The country entered the global nuclear club as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the main construction work of the much-awaited Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the maiden nuclear plant of the country, on November 30 last year. The work on the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, a dream project of the Prime Minister, and the biggest in the country's physical infrastructure sector, is progressing fast as its 50 percent work has already been completed. The present government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to stepped into the fifth and the last year of its successive second term in office with steering the nation toward achieving significant progress in economy, infrastructure, diplomacy, national security and overall development . On January 12 in 2014, the Awami League that led the nation's War of Independence in 1971 under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, formed the government for the second consecutive term after a landslide victory in the election to the 10th Jatiya Sangsad. Under the premier's dynamic stewardship, Bangladesh last year witnessed stunning successes in infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, power generation, nutrition, maternal and child health, primary education, women empowerment etc. The international community highly praised the Bangladesh prime minister's address to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on September 21 where she placed five-point proposal to solve the protracted Rohingya crisis. Bangladesh economy has been growing at 6.00-7.00 per cent during the last 15-20 years despite some political, social and natural disturbances in the past. He praised the economic growth of Bangladesh, particularly in the readymade garment (RMG) sector. He said Bangladesh has the capacity to replicate success of RMG and pharmaceuticals in other sectors of economy. He said that Bangladesh is producing high-quality medicines that are entering over a number of countries. Bangladesh has become a lower middle-income country in the world, according to a report published by the World Bank recently. Terming the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and France warm and friendly, he expressed the hope that Dhaka- Paris relations will reach a new height in the days to come. On investment climate in Bangladesh, he said " I believe that the investment climate is favorable for France investors because one of the incentives given to foreign investors is the tax exemption up to twelve years. Another incentive given by the local government to foreign companies is the possibility of repatriation of profits. Commenting on the youth community of Bangladesh, he said that strength of Bangladesh economic success lies in its youth. The economic success of Bangladesh is a remarkable fact that was originated after the Liberation war in 1971. Presently, Bangladesh has made tremendous progress in the social and economic development areas. Child mortality, life expectancy, child literacy and specially girl child literacy are good examples of the tremendous progress in this country during the last years. In Bangladesh, communication sector has made an unbelievable progress. Bangladesh is an economic phenomenon if we analyze its economic growth rate around seven per cent in the last years and its condition as the second world largest exporter of readymade garment only after China. He highly appreciated the government steps in ensuring security of expats living in Bangladesh and bringing back confidence of investors. 'Terrorism is a global threat, and as members of the international community we have to combat this social disease, he opined. He expressed the view that members of the civil society, journalists, intellectuals, teachers, scholars, religious leaders, cultural personalities and civil servants should work together to remove the social disease.

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