Bangladesh Forum Qatar in cooperation with the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) organised a seminar on ‘Foreign Direct Investment Opportunities in Bangladesh’ at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha, Qatar yesterday. Bangladesh State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam, MP attended the seminar as chief guest. Head of Business of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Thani, a large number of Qatari investors, business leaders, CEO of banks and financial institutions, and Head of diplomatic Missions in Doha attended the seminar.
In his remarks, the State Minister said that Bangladesh already crossed the LDC threshold in March this year and is on the track to be a developed country by 2041. He cited few examples of global thinktanks and research organisations which made very positive statements about the consistent economic progress of Bangladesh and her bright position in future in the global economy.
He highlighted that the so called ‘bottomless basket’ is now the 32nd largest economy in the world (in terms of purchasing power parity) and is among the top-ten fastest-growing economies of the world. He underlined the fact that despite the global economic meltdown and turmoil, Bangladesh achieved a sustained GDP growth between 6 and 7 percent for the last one decade with over 7 percent in the last three years. He said that Bangladesh exports medicines to about 100 countries and aspire to become a major player in pharmaceutical sector with 20% growth. He also said that Bangladesh Government is working to position Bangladesh as a manufacturing– distribution–logistics hub taking advantage of its geo-strategic location.
He said that Qatari business leaders can take advantage of the most liberal investment policy of Bangladesh among the South Asian countries and the comparative advantage in terms of market access, trainable and competitive youth workforce and competitive wages. He invited them to invest in capital market, energy, telecommunications and IT, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, agro-processing, human resource development, water and marine and other infrastructure projects, hi-tech manufacturing and microprocessors in Bangladesh. The State Minister told the Qatari business leaders that there are eight fully operational EPZs in Bangladesh and 100 Special Economic Zones are under process in different parts of the country. He said that Bangladesh Government is ready to offer one or more Special Economic Zones for Qatari investors exclusively which they can develop and operate as per their own desires and needs.
At the seminar, the State Minister made the following proposals to Qatari authority and investors for their consideration:Formation of a Bangladesh-Qatar Investment Forum as a more formal approach to explore and identify areas of cooperation. An MOU between the Qatar Investment Authority and BIDA can be signed in this regard;
A delegation from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) to Bangladesh to experience the favorable ground reality there for investment as well as to further discuss the issues with all relevant stakeholders;
Qatari investment to establish centres of excellence in Bangladesh to upgrade skills of Qatar bound Bangladeshi workers, particularly the young workforce;
The State Minister thanked Bangladesh Forum Qatar for organising the investment seminar which he termed as ‘crucial and timely’ engagement from the Bangladeshi community in Qatar. He thanked Bangladesh Embassy for facilitating the seminar. He hoped that Bangladesh Forum Qatar would act as catalyst to promote cooperation in trade and investment and Bangladesh Embassy in Doha would act as coordinator in this sector.
Executive Chairman of BIDA Kazi M. Aminul Islam underlined that Bangladesh welcomes any investments which is futuristic and offers high value products, and which is based on knowledge.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Qatar Ashud Ahmed highlighted that the growing Bangladeshi community in Qatar has been contributing not only to people to people contacts between two countries but also contributing to the development of trade and investment. He said that Bangladesh Embassy is always ready in patronising such an initiative. He expressed his optimism that such initiatives by the Bangladeshi community in Qatar would provide excellent platform for projecting Bangladesh’s investment potentials among the Qatari business leaders and investors and contribute to the strengthening bilateral relations of two brotherly countries.
Chief Executive Officer of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Yousuf Al Jaida commented that the seminar was an eye-opener for Qatari Business leaders and prospective investors who did not know much about Bangladesh, particualry what Bangladesh can offer for the Qatari investors. He said that the seminar is a way forward to making partnership with Bangladesh.
Head of Business of the Qatar Investment Authority Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Thani met the Bangladesh State Minister as well as the BIDA Executive Chairman in a separate meeting before the seminar. There was fruitful discussions in the meeting. QIA expressed its interest to send a business delegation to Bangladesh receiving formal invitation from Bangladesh and work with BIDA to find out new avenues for Qatari investment in Bangladesh.