Bangladesh has been missing out on huge opportunities of drawing in foreign direct investment (FDI) because of the country's unfavourable policies, said experts on Sunday.
Salman F Rahman, private industry and investment adviser to the prime minister, said, "We need some reforms, especially in laws, we have a lot to do. We are reforming the banking company act."
To attract more FDI, either new law can be enacted or the existing one to be reformed, he added.
Talking about the law reform, Planning Minister MA Mannan said, "We would like to do it in our own style."
Foreign Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised an event titled "Accelerating Bangladesh" where the chamber in association with Policy Exchange Bangladesh presented a report highlighting agribusiness, digital Economy, and green finance as three growth drivers of Bangladesh in accelerating investment opportunities.
The planning minister said, "I believe this roadmap presentation and three growth drivers will be a good reference in the development planning and will bring in FDI to aid our economy to flourish in all sectors," said the planning minister.
"Supporting their competitiveness through sharing global best practices and exploring policy opportunities in Bangladesh will be key to unlocking the potential across the economy," he added.
According to the research report, Bangladesh's resiliency and prosperity can be attributed to a number of causes, including increased private sector involvement, remittances, economic liberalization, and trade integration.
Salman F Rahman said, "Each of these sectors [agribusiness, digital Economy, and green finance] has a high potential of having young and skilled people, increasing export earnings, making a significant impact on small and medium enterprises, unlocking potential for long-term sustained growth, and exploring new investment opportunities."
"We have a nuclear power plant – how strong the country is. Now, we have to change the perception. Firstly, we have to select the product that we want to use for branding Bangladesh and then focus it globally to attract FDI."
Chamber President Rupali Haque Chowdhury said, "We are here to extend full support to the government in promoting FDI. We have been working not only to improve the country's revenue collection, but also to make a business-friendly atmosphere."
"We are in touch with foreign investors to interact with each other and help build confidence among the existing investors on the seriousness of the government to effectively implement policies and commitments," she added.
Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh ITO Naoki said, "As we see megaprojects, such as Dhaka metrorail, airport third terminal extension and matarbari deep sea port, are running under Japanese supervision, we have strong relations. So, I think here is the future. And, no doubt, this country is the most promising one in Asia."
"But before that, you need aggressive reform of regulations, if you want to achieve 2041 goals."
Yasir Azman, chief executive officer of Grameenphone, said, "We should take care of human resources, who are not only youth but also middle-aged people with good experiences and expertise. A knowledge and skills based society can change the industry landscape rapidly."
President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Barrister Nihad Kabir said the government needs to decide what would be the strategy for the upcoming days to attract FDI.
"We need to train civil servants as well, what they actually want from the private sector. Besides, we have to brand Bangladesh much more in the international arena," he added.
Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director at Apex Footwear Ltd, said, "Bangladesh is a paradoxical country and we have great products, but we do not sell them properly. By producing apparel and leather goods, we have become the factory of the world. Now, we should come up with the branding. Bangladesh does not follow the traditional path of progress."
The net inflow of FDI in Bangladesh dropped by $56 million in the first half of the current calendar year.
According to the Bangladesh Bank's monthly economic trends, the net inflow of FDI stood at $1,131 million in the January-June period of the current year, which was $1,187 million in the same period in 2020.