August 12, 2022, 8:51 am

Staff Correspondent

2021-11-22 14:30:42 BdST

FICCI for boosting investment in three key areas

Bangladesh – in line with the progress made in the last 50 years – should enact pro-business policies to unlock greater possibilities, attract foreign investment, step up revenue mobilisation and ensure economic diversification to attain its development targets.

In a report released on Sunday, the Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) identified agribusiness, digital economy, and green finance as growth drivers for Bangladesh, and outlined the need for accelerating investment opportunities in those sectors.

Economists, business leaders, and policymakers made the recommendations while addressing the event “Accelerating Bangladesh,” held to unveil the “Growth Drivers of Bangladesh: Accelerating Investment Opportunities in Agribusiness, Digital Economy, and Green Finance” study.

The programme and the research report – prepared by the Policy Exchange of Bangladesh – were held and unveiled respectively to commemorate Bangladesh’s 50 years of Independence and the Birth Centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Planning Minister MA Mannan attended the programme as the chief guest, while Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister Salman F Rahman and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam participated as special guests.

The FICCI seeks to uphold the momentum of these three growth drivers to bring in more foreign direct investments (FDI) and boost engagement with the government in this regard.

Why agribusiness, digital economy, and green finance matter?

Globally, the green bond market could be worth $2.36 trillion by 2023 and a shift to a greener economy could create 24 million new jobs across the world by 2030. Climate Investment opportunities globally is $23 trillion and $172 billion in Bangladesh between now and 2030.

Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries of the world, requiring sincere efforts in sustainable and green financing, the FICCI study says.

Bangladesh will be burdened with significant losses if the situation remains unchanged, and it is estimated that the annual loss would be 2 per cent and 9.4 per cent of the country’s GDP by 2050 and 2100, respectively.

The report recommends promoting and incentivising investment in a wide range of assets, including renewable energy projects, water treatment plants, recycling facilities and mass transit.

It also speaks in favour of creating green finance zones – where financial institutions will receive a variety of incentives to fund clean and low-carbon industries. Government issued Green Finance Bonds, sold by commercial banks and non-financial entities for funding solar, wind and other clean energy projects can also facilitate growth of the market.

As the global economy is marching towards a great adoption of information and technology, the digital economy will be very crucial for Bangladesh’s development, the study says.

The ecommerce industry of the country will be $3 billion by 2023, while the government set its mission to earn $5 billion from the domestic technology market by 2025, it added.

In line with the projection, there will be a 60 per cent higher demand for food by 2050. By 2030, the processed food market of Bangladesh will be $5.8 billion. The market will grow very rapidly as 34 million people will reach the middle class by 2025.

Bangladesh is among the top 10 producers of rice, jute, farm fish, vegetables, potato and further growth in the segment needs investment, the report recommends.

It further states that stronger trade integration through targeted trade agreements and export competitiveness will help development of export markets for agro-products, creating pull factors and entry points for reforms.

On the other hand, an effective market information system is critical for bringing all market players in accessible digital networks and providing real-time information on markets, demands and supply projections.

Stronger trade, investment a must

According to the FICCI report, Bangladesh’s 8th Five Year Plan aims to accelerate economic development and align it with its ambitions through stronger trade and investment.

In accordance with the plan, by 2025, the target increases in FDI by 6 times, export by 66 per cent and private investment to GDP by 15 per cent.

By showcasing the roadmap and the research report, FICCI shared its vision of the country’s next economic leap through FDI. The summit discussed the global best practices to follow in development planning, policy formulation, and generating foreign direct investment.

This report focuses on agribusiness, digital economy, and green financing for climate-smart investments to understand what is best to unleash their global and domestic competitiveness, taking into account global trends, Bangladesh’s diversification needs, and national priorities. Moreover, the fundamental strength of the country’s private sector.

Dr M Masrur Reaz, founder and chairman of the Policy Exchange of Bangladesh, said, “The vital role would be to expand the FDI, stepping up revenue mobilisation and economic diversification, as these will be the key to attaining the country’s targets.”

FICCI President and Managing Director of Berger Paints Bangladesh Rupali Haque Chowdhury said, “FICCI is here to extend its full support to the Government in promoting FDI. We have been providing national budget proposals to the government regularly not only to improve its revenue collection, but also to make a business-friendly atmosphere for doing business in Bangladesh.

“We are in touch with foreign investors to boost interaction with each other and help build confidence among the existing investors on the seriousness of the government to effectively implement policies and commitments.”

Planning Minister MA Mannan said, “I believe this roadmap presentation and the three growth drivers will be a good reference in the development planning, and will bring in FDI to help our economy flourish in all sectors.

“We need to keep in mind that the three driving sectors will be the key agents of success. Besides, this initiative will also focus on a host of small yet strategically important sectors. Supporting competitiveness in these sectors by sharing global best practices and exploring policy opportunities in Bangladesh will be the key to unlocking their potential.”

According to the research report, Bangladesh’s resiliency and prosperity can be attributed to a number of factors, including an increased private sector involvement, remittances, economic liberalisation, and trade integration.

Addressing the matter, Adviser to the Prime Minister Salman F Rahman said, “Each of these sectors has a high potential for meeting the country’s economic goals, such as creating employment for a large number of young and skilled people, increasing export earnings, making a significant impact on small and medium enterprises, unlocking the potential for long-term sustained growth, and exploring new investment opportunities.”

Government officials, policymakers, diplomats, business leaders, FICCI members, and other stakeholders participated in the event. The inaugural session was on “Changing the landscape.”

Then, BIDA Chairman Md Sirazul Islam, CEO of Grameenphone Yasir Azman, President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI) Barrister Nihad Kabir discussed the key aspects of generating more FDI and ways to achieve the developed Bangladesh goal in the next session titled “Branding Bangladesh.”

Country Manager of Marks and Spencer Shwapna Bhowmick chaired the programme, while FICCI Vice President and Managing Director of Singer Bangladesh MHM Fairoz, EC member of FICCI and CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Naser Ezaz Bijoy, and its Executive Director TIM Nurul Kabir were also present there.

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