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Bangladesh - Bank & Finance - January 1, 2024

Journey for trillion dollar economy begins

Enayet Karim : Bangladesh is on the way to becoming a trillion-dollar economy by 2040. Being a growing market with a strategic geographic position, Bangladesh is sure to benefit from its growing middle-income group.
Currently, Bangladesh is a $416-billion economy. BCG predicts Bangladesh’s middle and affluent class will reach a volume of 34 million people by 2025 from the 19 million of 2020, thus propelling the growth.
Such an economic growth as pred Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she has a dream to turn Bangladesh into a trillion-dollar economy, urging investors to come up with robust investment particularly in the ICT, infrastructure, textiles and tourism.
We may expect the overall standard of living to go up, which will also mean improved development outcomes, like the rising Human Development Index.
There would be more job creation that will drive unemployment levels down. From a fiscal standpoint, a trillion-dollar economy will ensure the government’s coffers are filling up with tax revenues, leading to savings in unemployment benefits as more people are employed.

As the country improves on infrastructure and business-friendly environment, one can expect Bangladesh to draw more investment from abroad. It would indeed be a sought-after scenario. Undoubtedly, emerging into a trillion-dollar economy will be good for Bangladesh. To reach that stage and not derail off course will require proper planning and strategizing.
The country will have to manage on many fronts. For starters, there could not be any liquidity challenge. Sure, cash can propel the economy, so the government would have to ensure that liquidity never becomes an issue. Also, reaching the trillion -dollar mark could mean inflation.
The inflationary pressure will have to be countered as growth will mean less if more people find the general price levels going out of hands. Finally, it has happened many a time that a continued growth surge has led to benefits being confined to only a selected few.
That would defeat the purpose of the trillion-dollar economy-everyone must be benefitted. The government will have to be wary of lopsided growths and do everything to counter this. The pathway to a trillion-dollar economy will involve investing in the right capital and infrastructure.
The government is already working towards lowering the cost of doing business and improving the ease of doing business in the country. These effects will not manifest overnight, but through continued actions, a few years of dedication can make a vast difference in how improved Bangladesh becomes in terms of business-friendly policies and laws and their implementations. Policies to foster innovation and productivity will have to be embraced as those will allow the major leaps in growth.
A shift towards a trillion-dollar economy will require us to move away from our overdependence on RMG as the major export earner and also promote other sectors. It would also need to promote our informal sector and ensure optimal formalization, which will offer many inherent benefits to the workers.
Finally, the reliance on public and private sector collaborations will still hold value for many future projects. A trillion-dollar economy is not something that will land on us out of nowhere: it has to be achieved. Immense amount of work will be required to reach that point. In this age of due diligence, environmental awareness, intellectual property rights, and the SDGs, we have multiple areas to focus on.
Concentrating on one area should not mean losing touch with the big picture: Bangladesh will have to grow to a level from where positive effects trickle down on every member of the society. The government will work, and both workers and employers will contribute towards achieving the common goals. When properly planned and adequately implemented, a trillion-dollar economy can certainly be achieved. May the citizens work together towards the achievement of the goal and succeed in their pursuit.
“I have a dream; the 170 million people of Bangladesh have a dream. And that is, to become a trillion-dollar economy and a fully developed smart nation by 2041,” she said.
In pursuit of achieving the dream, the premier said they have embarked on an ambitious endeavour aimed at setting down long-term objectives for prosperity and advancement.
The prime minister said Bangladesh has been steadfastly fortifying its commercial landscape to evolve into an even more friendly destination for trade, business, and investment.
“Our conviction rests in the belief that our endeavours will not only yield benefits for us but will also prove profitable for all those who choose to invest in our growing economy,” she said.
The premier said they have welcomed investors worldwideto explore the numerous investment prospects within Bangladesh as this is the perfect time to acquaint yourselves with what Bangladesh offers.
“This is the time to know Bangladesh better and to invest in its future. We offer opportunities across sectors like ICT, electronics, infrastructure, textiles, tourism, heavy industry, and small industries. Our government is committed to facilitating smooth business operations,” she said.
She said Bangladesh’s authorities such as the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority, Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority, Bangladesh High Tech Park Authority, and Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission, will all support foreign investors for optimal returns.
“Bangladesh progresses toward prosperity. We want you to join our journey of development. Do invest in Bangladesh; we are confident that your investment will be primed for success, and we are fully prepared for a sustainable partnership,” she said.
About the justification of making investments in Bangladesh, she said: “Indeed, your investment in our nation is secure due to consistently high Returns on Investment (ROI). Moreover, our government ensures a business-friendly and stable atmosphere that guarantees your investment’s success.”
Apart from this, she said Bangladesh promises a secure and prosperous future for global investors and currently Bangladesh has the most open foreign direct investment policies in South Asia that includes a liberalized industrial policy, one-stop service, an allowance for 100% foreign ownership, an easy exit policy, a 15-year tax exemption, a VAT exemption for imported machinery, streamlined services, and more.
“In our growing economy, we are poised for substantial long-term financing. Amid the 4th Industrial Revolution, AI, and Venture Capital, Bangladesh is pursuing “Financial Connectivity” globally, prioritizing “Investment Banking” over traditional Consumer Banking,” she continued.
With a growing middle class, an increasing population, and rising consumer demands, Africa becomes an attractive market for Bangladeshi exports, she added.
“Over the past decade, Bangladesh has consistently maintained an average growth rate ranging from 6% to 7%. This resilience has been evident even in the face of the pandemic and unprecedented economic challenges in recent times,” she said.
In fact, the formal recognition in 2021 of Bangladesh’s transition from a ‘least developed country’ to a ‘developing’ country underscores this remarkable trajectory, she said.
“Indeed, we have already set our sights on achieving the SDGs by 2030, reaffirming our commitment to forging a path of progress and prosperity,” she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is establishing 100 Special Economic Zones, 109 Hi-Tech and Software Technology Parks, and IT Training and Incubation Centers across the country to facilitate commerce and industrialization.
The recent inauguration of the Padma Bridge and Matarbari Deep Sea port will further amplify both external connectivity and internal trade, thus acting as catalysts for growth, she said.
“Our strong and robust private sector will keep providing a great range of opportunities for those who invest in our economy in the future. We are confident that we are heading full speed forward on the path of the 4th industrial revolution,” she said.
The premier also said the heart of our strength lies in the people of Bangladesh with about 55 million youths with the requisite skills committed to accomplishing the required tasks in future.
“Our fortunate position is enhanced by connections on both regional and global levels. Additionally, a growing domestic market and an expanding consumer class further strengthen this demographic benefit,” she opined.
The premier went on saying that Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) is elevating its capital market for essential long-term financing.
In 2020, the country’s stock markets outperformed regional peers, with $61 billion in market capitalization, or 16.8 percent of GDP, she said.
Chairman of Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), the stock market regulatory body, Professor Shibli Rubaiyat-ul-Islam said, we will work to improve corporate governance.
He said, we are now moving towards a trillion-dollar economy for corporate governance. The world is talking about us. Our goal is to achieve SDG goals. Then we will proceed towards LDG.
The BSEC chairman said these things while addressing a seminar titled ‘Continuous Professional Development on Bangladesh Secretarial Standards: Essential Tools for Strengthening Corporate Governance held recently at Dhaka.
Institute of Chartered Secretaries of Bangladesh (ICSB) organized the seminar. Commissioner of Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission Dr. Sheikh Shamsuddin Ahmed and Commissioner Dr. Mizanur Rahman were also attended the seminar as special guest.
BSEC Chairman said that the current government is very business friendly. Because if there is no business there will be no economic development. And SDG and LDG goals will not be met without economic development.

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