Published in Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Analysts: Regulatory complexity main bar to FDI in Bangladesh

Tribune Report

Along with perennial infrastructure deficits and bureaucratic bottleneck, regulatory framework complexity is the main barrier for attracting foreign direct investment in Bangladesh, trade analysts said yesterday.

Bangladesh needs to align its foreign regulation act with greater regional and global laws for tapping opportunities offered by its geographical proximity, they suggested.

The local and global trade analysts gave their views at the concluding day of a two-day Bangladesh Investment and Policy Summit 2016 by the government at a city hotel yesterday.

“Bangladesh is competent in global context as well as many countries in East Asia. At the same time, I see many challenges for Bangladesh,” said Esperanza Lasagabaster, Practice Manager, Trade and Competitiveness, World Bank Group.

She said absence of intra-regional connectivity, access to service and power, complexities in the regulatory framework and foreign regulatory act are the barriers for attracting foreign investment.

In addition, in improving connectivity in basic infrastructure, it is important for Bangladesh to establish more transparent and predictable policy regime to attract investment, she noted.

Laying emphasis on brining reforms in foreign regulatory act, she said there is a gap between foreign policy and practice.

“In absence of widely competent law, FDI is regulated by multiple laws. For example, foreign policy on private investment protection is very supportive, but it has left many gaps, which were not supportive with the FDI,” said Lasagabaster.

Bangladesh needs to continue evolution of its foreign regulatory act for better alignment with greater regional and global laws for taking stock of geographical position, she said.

Lasagabaster, however, said: “The glad news is that new commitment and political engagement between Bangladesh and India offer a unique historical opportunity. Now is time to take an action more than ever.”

Centre for Policy Dialogue Executive Director Mustafizur Rahman said investing in Bangladesh, an investor would get access to domestic, regional and global markets. “Making investment in Bangladesh, investors will enjoy immense benefits including duty-free and quota-free market access to almost across the world for at least next 10 years until Bangladesh graduates from least developed countries to next stage.”

Speaking at another session, Professor of International Business Department at Dhaka University SM Mahfuzur Rahman said when an entrepreneur starts to prepare documents for business, he or she faces bureaucratic tangle first and then different laws.

“These are the great problem for making an entrepreneur in the country.”

“Technological innovation, simplification of policy regulations and connecting domestic and foreign investors are the key to attract FDI in Bangladesh.”

CEO of Robi Axiata Limited, Supun Weerasinghe, said the government should address the taxation complexity to attract foreign investors. Frequent change of rules and regulation discourage the investors to start their business.

In other session on private sector development policy ecosystem in Bangladesh, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Hossain Khaled said innovation is the key to attract both domestic and foreign investors.

“The country needs a forward looking FDI policy as the existing policy fails to address the problems,” he said.

Policy Research Institute Executive Director Ahsan H Mansur said breaking into new markets, new products, improving workers’ skill and welfare, building a supportive economic environment and meeting the challenge of serviceable land were the five pillars for future prospect of the country.

World Bank Group’s global investment policy lead Roberto Echandi said the secret of success for wooing boosting investment is to connect domestic and foreign investors.

Head of DFID in Bangladesh Sarah Cooke said simplification of regulatory affairs and creating an investment-friendly policy ecosystem was critical for Bangladesh as the existing policy regime is very complex.


Published in The Financial Express on Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Call to make joint efforts for boosting intra-regional trade

Two-day Investment and Policy Summit ends

FE Report

Speakers at a business session on Monday urged the governments of South Asian countries to make joint efforts for boosting intra-regional trade and investment.

According to them, the volume of intra-regional trade among the south Asian countries is one of the lowest compared to that of other regional blocks.

Their observations came at the session titled “Promoting Intra-regional Investment through Regional Integration” of a two-day Bangladesh Investment and Policy Summit 2016 that began at a city hotel on Sunday.

Board of Investment (BoI) organised the two-day summit.

President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Abdul Matlub Ahmad moderated the concluding session.

The speakers said implementation of BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) Motor Vehicles Agreement could play an important role in enhancing regional investment and trade among the nations of South Asia.

Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Prof Mustafizur Rahman said Bangladesh is the safest place for investment. The investors will get all kinds of facilities. Indians entrepreneurs can invest here, considering duty-free market access of their products as Bangladesh is a member of LDCs and also a lower-middle income country that enjoys duty-free market access of its products to other countries.

“The cost of doing business in Bangladesh is lower than that of any other countries. This is high time for foreign investors to invest here,” he said.

“The foreign investors especially Indians can avail of such opportunity to invest here and export their products in the region and international markets without export duty,” he added.

Prof Dr Delwar Hossain of International Relations Department at Dhaka University said regional integration is important for increasing intra-regional investment.

Practice Manager on Trade and Competitiveness of the World Bank (WB) Esperanza Lasagabaster said the global lender will continue its support to the government’s efforts to reforms on trade and investment.

Secretary (MAU) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (Retd) Md Khurshed Alam, BN suggested utilising the potential of the blue economy.


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