Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday called upon the Singapore business communities to take a partnership role in Bangladesh’s journey towards economic development.
She also offered them 500 acres of land or more for setting their own industrial park.
The premier was addressing Bangladesh-Singapore Business Forum-2018 at Shangri-La hotel here this morning as the chief guest.
Mentioning her government’s initiative for setting up Special Economic Zones across the country, the premier urged them to explore their business scope by taking full advantage of advantageous and liberal opportunities offered by the Bangladesh government.
International Enterprise, Singapore, Singapore Business Federation and Bangladesh Business Chamber of Singapore jointly organised the forum with the theme “Towards a New Era of Bangladesh-Singapore Economic Partnership.”
Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore Lim Hng Kiang attended the function as guest-of-honour, while acting CEO of International Enterprise Singapore Kathy Lai and chairman of Singapore Business Federation SS Teo also spoke on the occasion.
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh AH Mahmood Ali, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid and heads of different trade bodies of Singapore and Bangladesh and CEOs and managing directors of leading business organizations joined the forum.
Sheikh Hasina said her government is striving hard to build Golden Bangladesh, a country free from hunger, poverty and deprivation to materialise the dream of the country’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The premier said Bangladesh is now pursuing one of the most liberal foreign investment regimes in South Asia. It includes protection of foreign investment by law, generous tax holiday, concessionary duty on import of machinery, remittances of royalty, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh also offer 100% foreign equity, unrestricted exit policy, full repatriation of dividend and capital on exit.
“We’ve a huge young, energetic and easily trainable workforce with competitive wages,” she said.
The premier said Bangladesh is getting opportunities for duty and quota- free access to the markets of EU, Australia, Canada, India, Japan and New Zealand, she said.
“We’re now transforming the nation into a knowledge-based society, driven by our ‘Digital Bangladesh’ Vision 2021 since 2009 … we’ve set a clear goal to become a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said from a humble subsistence agriculture-based economy, Bangladesh is shifting towards a modern, resilient and diversified economy.
She said the manufacturing sectors now occupy four-fifth of its GDP. In 2017, Price Waterhouse Cooper predicted Bangladesh as one of the three fastest growing economies globally over the next three decades, she said.
The leading UK Daily Financial Times in its 8 August 2017 issue states “Bangladesh has achieved an economic miracle in the past 20 years,” she said. “We expect that half of our population to become urbanized consumers by 2030 creating a large market,” she noted.
Giving a blooming economic picture of Bangladesh, the prime minister said last year Bangladesh’s economy posted a GDP growth rate of 7.28%. The foreign currency reserve rose to over US$ 33 billion in 2017 from a mere US$ 3.5 billion in 2005, she said.
She said the export volume of Bangladesh increased to US$ 34.67 billion in 2016-17 fiscal from US$ 10.52 billion in 2005-06. Poverty rate has been slashed to 22% now from 41.5% in 2005 and life expectancy has increased to 72.4 years from 65 years in 2006, she said.
At present, she said, the per capita income of the people rose to US$ 1,610 from US$ 543 in 2005 and Bangladesh is now ranked the 33rd largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity-PPP.
“We are expecting UN to announce graduation of Bangladesh from LDC very soon, as recognition of our recent economic performances,” she said.
The prime minister said success of Bangladesh’s readymade garments sector is known to the world.
“The volume of our textile export is second to only China reaching almost US$ 30 billion in 2017 and we want to increase this export to US$ 50 billion by 2021,” she said.
Similarly, she said, Bangladesh’s pharmaceuticals are now being exported to 120 countries, including USA and EU, after meeting 97% of its domestic demands. “Bangladesh is emerging fast as a major global hub for high quality, low-cost generic medicines,” she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh’s knowledge industry, ICT and related industry are also expanding rapidly.
“Shipbuilding is yet another promising sector as builders have drawn global attention by making world-class light to medium-sized oceangoing vessels,” she said.
Pointing out her government’s initiatives for establishing 100 ‘Special Economic Zones’ (SEZs) in different parts of the country, she said, several Hi-tech Parks are being developed in Bangladesh for IT industries with foreign investment.
“Bangladesh has a target of exporting US$ 5 billion worth of IT goods and services by 2021,” she said.
After the inaugural ceremony, the trade bodies of the two countries and government enterprises inked four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in the presence of the prime minister for bolstering economic cooperation between the two countries.