Bangladesh has a long-term integrated master plan in place which connects infrastructure, industry, agriculture, urbanisation, mitigation of climate change risk, and sustainability, making it a great opportunity for UK investors, speakers at a summit said.
During the "Showcase Bangladesh 2021: Bangladesh-UK Investment Summit" jointly organised by Standard Chartered and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) in London, speakers also stressed that foreign direct investment (FDI) and international technical collaboration would greatly accelerate the attainment of these sustainability plans.
Speaking at the event, Naser Ezaz Bijoy, chief executive officer, Standard Chartered Bangladesh, said, "Bangladesh's achievements in terms of growth in nominal GDP in the first 36 years since independence has tripled in a third of the time, over the last 12 years. Despite the challenges posed by pandemic, the country achieved one of the highest economic growth rates in the world, thanks to judicious policy intervention by the government and the resiliency of the people.
"The country is expected to maintain a growth trajectory that will enable GDP to exceed economies like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Denmark and others. This is absolutely the right time to invest in Bangladesh which I believe is the 'Best Kept Secret of Asia'," he said.
Saying Bangladesh's growth did not happen by accident, but due to the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Salman F Rahman, private sector and investment adviser to the prime minister, said, "Now, in order to beat the 'middle-income trap' and become a high-income nation by 2041, we need to continue to develop our domestic markets and diversify our export baskets -- both of which would be catalysed by FDI & Domestic Investment."
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said "Twelve years after the declaration of Digital Bangladesh by the honourable prime minister, we have achieved major milestones as a nation and have graduated to middle income status. ICT has played a role in this incredible journey and will continue to be a key enabler of our sustained progress."
Speaking on Bangladesh's potential, Mohammad Sirazul Islam, executive chairman, BIDA, said, "The UK is already the second-largest investor in Bangladesh, but there is vast potential to do more. Bangladesh's liberalised investment policies and concessions encourage foreign investment. Our government is keen on facilitating more investments from the UK, which is a strong partner in our progress."
Isabelle Jenkins, leader of Leader of Industry for Financial Services, PwC United Kingdom; and Gavin Dunne, director, M&A, Unilever UK, also made remarks on why Bangladesh is a potential destination for investors in the UK, and what can be done to support the investment process.
The summit brought together highly placed delegates representing UK public and private sectors, policymakers, investors, bankers and economists, along with prominent leaders from Bangladesh's private and public sectors.
Robert Chatterton Dixon, British high commissioner to Bangladesh; Saida Muna Tasneem, Bangladesh high commissioner to the UK, Ireland and Liberia and Md Jashim Uddin, president, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry also attended the event.
Torry Berntsen, CEO, Europe and Americas & CEO, UK Standard Chartered; Nihad Kabir, president, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry; Rupali Chowdhury, president, Foreign Investor's Chamber of Commerce & Industry, among others, spoke at the event.
More than 100 representatives of businesses based in the UK attended the summit.
Standard Chartered and BIDA formed a partnership in January 2021 to jointly promote Bangladesh as a preferred investment destination and work together to bring in targeted global investments to the country. This was the first physical investment-focused roadshow undertaken under this partnership.