DailyNewSun Desk- Laying emphasis on doubling bilateral trade volume by 2025, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today invited French businessmen to boost their investors in Bangladesh as the country sits at a strategic location among major economic centers in the Indo-Pacific.
“French investment in Bangladesh is still modest compared to its global footprint. I invite French investors to witness first-hand the investment opportunities in Bangladesh,” she said.
The Prime Minister made this call during her meeting with the Business Leaders of MEDEF International at the Place of Residence here in France.
Mentioning that Bangladesh sits at a strategic location in the Indo-Pacific to act as a bridge among major economic centers, Sheikh Hasina said “We are working on making Bangladesh a regional connectivity hub. Our investments in road, rail, maritime, energy and digital connectivity across the region will be a real game-changer.”
She said Bangladesh’s Investment Promotion Agency- BIDA is directly reporting to her office and it will be happy to support French investors in any way possible.
She advised “You may wish to find a local partner to make your entry easier, and you would be well advised to build a partnership with Bangladesh in the long term.”
“Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and France is growing steadily. The two-way trade stands close to 2 billion US dollars”, she added.
Mentioning that France is now Bangladesh’s 5th largest export destination, the Premier said “We must aim to double the volume of bilateral trade by 2025. Our export to France also needs to diversify further.”
Sheikh Hasina said that she is sure that French investors will feel confident about the prospects for high returns on their investment.
“We would also welcome your constant feedback and suggestions,” she said, adding, “Bangladesh stands ready to welcome you to make your business venture grow for our mutual benefit.”
She thanked MEDEF for setting up a Bangladesh-France Business Council.
“We would encourage further bilateral engagements through institutional linkages. The MEDEF business mission to Bangladesh can be planned in connection with next year’s celebrations of the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations,” she said.
Referring to her yesterday’s talks with President Macron and also with the French Prime Minister, she said they have agreed to take the bilateral Relations to new heights.
“This should be reflected in our economic partnership as well. I look forward to your active cooperation in making that happen”, she added.
The Prime Minister said in the last one decade, Bangladesh’s economy has grown at an average rate of six percent with 8.52 percent growth in 2018-19.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said the economy posted a growth rate of 5.21 percent, the highest in the Asia-Pacific.
She continued “Our strategy to maintain a balance between people’s lives and livelihoods worked in our favour.”
She mentioned Bangladesh’s US$ 310 billion economy is now the world’s 41st largest in nominal GDP and the per capita income has been revised upwards to US$ 2,554.
She added “Our macro-economic fundamentals remain strong and continue to get positive sovereign credit ratings. Our securities markets are also gaining international confidence.”
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh’s notable progress in the social sector is a result of the government’s inclusive development policies.
She said “Our achievements in poverty alleviation, combating hunger, women’s empowerment, primary health care, free housing allocation, disaster management and social protection are now widely recognized.”
She said the aim of the government is bringing 80 percent of the target group population under COVID-19 vaccination by March next year. “I call for international solidarity to build back better, stronger and greener from the pandemic.”
She said the government is continuing to invest in productivity growth of the workers. “Our private sector is showing remarkable resilience. We have a fast-expanding middle-class consumer base. Our girls and women are making their mark in almost all spheres of society”, she added.
The Premier hoped to groom the next generation as true global citizens. She said “We have the world’s second highest number of IT freelancers now working in Bangladesh. Some of our start-ups are getting sizable international investments.”
Talking about the political situation in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said the overall political stability has created the right environment for its socio-economic growth. “Our territory is now relatively peaceful and secure compared to some of our neighbouring countries”, she added.
She also noted that the pandemic could not slow down Bangladesh’s massive investments in infrastructure projects.
She went on saying “We also offer one of the friendliest investment environments in the region. We remain open to sustained reforms in our legal and policy framework. Our legal regime offers sound protection to foreign investments. We are getting ready for the policy adjustments to be made following our LDC graduation.”
She added the government is setting up 100 Special Economic Zones and 28 HI-TECH Parks across the country.
Sheikh Hasina said “We now have excess power generation capacity. Our entire land territory has internet coverage. Bangladesh now ranks among the top rice, inland fisheries and vegetable producing countries. Our Blue Economy resources, however, largely remain untapped.”
Regarding the climate change issue, she said, “Our vulnerability to climate change is a reality. But we are now focused on building climate resilience and sustainability.”
She continued “This also creates green business opportunities for our partners. Our long-term development plans are aimed at building a peaceful, inclusive and prosperous delta.”
She said all these factors make Bangladesh an attractive trade and investment destination.
The Prime Minister repeated what she had said in Paris back in 2017, saying “France needs to invest to sustain its growth, and Bangladesh needs investment and trade to fast-track its growth. Together, we can create a win-win situation for our two economies.”
She said a number of French enterprises are engaged in useful work in Bangladesh. “We developed our Bangabandhu I Satellite with the technical support of a French company. Two ground control stations have also been set up. We have started planning for our second satellite,” she added.
She said Bangladesh’s air navigation systems are being supported by French technology and in addition French expertise is also being used in the energy sector, including for expanding one of our oil refineries.
“We appreciate continued French investment in our water development sector. Agro-processing can be yet another area for enhanced cooperation,” she added