Mr. Amir Hossain Amu, Minister of Industries of Bangladesh, appreciated and took note of the findings of the Investment Policy Review (IPR) of Bangladesh, indicating that “this Review has paved the way to underscore important viewpoints in promoting investment in Bangladesh, including foreign direct investment and joint ventures, in line with our national growth and development objectives.”
The findings of the IPR were discussed at the sixth session of the Investment, Enterprise and Development Commission of UNCTAD, in presence of a high-level delegation from the country. A final draft of the IPR was earlier presented at a workshop in Dhaka, attended by public officials and private-sector representatives, in March 2013.
Effectively implemented, UNCTAD's recommendations could help improve the investment environment, boost the levels of investment, bolster inclusive economic growth and foster sustainable development.
Following the presentations, international investors had the opportunity to discuss the potential of Bangladesh as an investment destination directly with the Government delegation.
As stressed by the country’s representatives before the Commission, Bangladesh has achieved significant progress during the last decade. Annual growth of gross domestic product averaged nearly 6% between 2000 and 2012. But despite nearly doubling in the second half of the 2000s, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows were at relatively low levels, averaging US$ 700 million annually. This, says the IPR, shows a gap between the country's huge potential, underpinned by abundant and competitive labour and a strategic geographical location, and its FDI attraction performance.
Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, said that Bangladesh is an increasingly attractive destination for FDI. He said the IPR reflects the desire of Bangladesh to build a successful investment framework and policy environment that attracts not only foreign investors, but also promotes domestic private sector development. This will contribute to positioning the country as an important manufacturing centre in Asia.
The IPR identifies two pillars for action – addressing regulatory issues affecting investment and enhancing infrastructure for sustainable development through FDI.
On the regulatory side, the IPR calls for setting out in a clear and transparent manner the conditions for investment, enlarging the scope of the Foreign Private Investment Promotion and Protection Act of 1980 (FPIPPA), and reconsidering the regulatory functions of the Board of Investment.
The IPR also presented an in-depth strategy for upgrading public infrastructure, with action-oriented policy recommendations on such areas as the institutional framework for public-private partnerships, transportation plans (including roads and ports); and a progressive opening up of the energy sector to FDI.
Other areas where UNCTAD thinks reform could benefit the country’s development include business facilitation in land and fiscal policy, skills development and transfer of technology, and trade policy in the context of global value chains (especially in the pharmaceutical sector).