The Nordic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in Bangladesh, in cooperation with the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the Embassy of Denmark and the Embassy of Sweden, organized a webinaron “Building a Sustainable Environment for Foreign Direct Investment: Outlook and Opportunities for Bangladesh.”NCCI facilitated discussion on the development of overall business environment and addressed bottlenecks to attract Nordic investment in the country. Business leaders, foreign dignitaries, government regulatory bodies, policy makers and advocacy coalitions also joined in the webinar.
As chief guest, Salman F Rahman, Private Sector Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister said,
“Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s idea of Shonar Bangla, a fairer and prosperous country, bear resemblances to the Nordic success in the creation of more equitable and robust economies.”
Mr. Rahman also mentioned that as the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has set the target to transform Bangladesh into a developed nation—the culmination of Shonar Bangla—by 2041, we place the highest importance on the attraction of FDIs and diversifying our export basket. As such, we aim to further our relations with Sweden, Denmark and Norway with focus on IT, telecom, energy, RMG and shipping.”
As special guest, Md. Sirazul Islam, Executive Chairman, BIDA remarked that “Bangladesh is a land of limitless opportunities. As many as 94% respondents of a survey on Nordic businesses in Bangladesh said they are expanding their operations. I will urge existing Nordic investors to be our ambassadors and highlight just how profitable, comfortable and supportive Bangladesh is as an investment destination.”
Mr. Miah Rahmat Ali, Senior Private Sector Specialist of IFC, presented a keynote and highlighted that the government of Bangladesh has taken several critical reform initiatives to build a sustainable environment for the private sector, including foreign direct investment. The government may consider bold and evidence-based reform initiatives to ensure more predictability in regulatory service delivery and private sector related policy formulation and a level playing field for all businesses. Also, Mr. Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, Chairman, NBR, joined the event as a special guest.
NCCI President, Mr. Tareq Rahman, in his welcome remark told that the Nordic companies can largely contribute to the long-term sustainable growth of Bangladesh though FDI in infrastructure, sustainable agriculture, power, healthcare, telecommunication, manufacturing and finance, with particular focus on innovation and climate sustainability. He commended the work of the Government of Bangladesh to implement the “Digital Bangladesh” of the honorable Prime Minister which will take the country forward to achieve the middle-income status by 2024.
Speaking on behalf of the Nordic Embassies in Bangladesh, the Swedish Ambassador Alex Berg von Linde said,
“The Nordic countries remain committed to our partnership with Bangladesh to strengthen the possibilities of our companies to be agents for sustainable development in Bangladesh. In this regard, we especially value our good and long-standing dialogue with the Government of Bangladesh and its’ Agencies and Authorities on issues relating to the Ease of Doing Business in the country.”
“Improving the business and investment climate for the companies already present in the country will send a clear signal to others, waiting to bring their products, know-how and investment into the market: Bangladesh has the potential to be a competitive and modern business destination”, Ambassador Berg von Linde added.
A panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ahsan Mansur, Executive Director, Policy Research Institute (PRI) with the Special Guests, IFC and NCCI President focused on issues limiting expansion, trade and investment in Bangladesh for Nordic businesses. Panelists also discussed the regulatory related constrains which creates uncertainly and adversely affect business. They also underscored the importance of digitization of processes which would improve the ease of doing business and create a level playing field for all actors in the market. During the Q&A session, several NCCI members and stakeholders also highlighted the importance of agile and timely response of public sector departments.