Saturday, April 21, 2018

BIDA taking sizable team to Europe to brand a ‘different’ Bangladesh

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2018-04-11 22:52:08 BdST

bdnews24

The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority or BIDA is taking a large delegation of businessmen and officials to Brussels and the Netherlands to showcase a ‘different’ Bangladesh and convey what the country can offer to the European countries.

“Our narrative has changed. Once, we used to tell other countries what we need. Today we are ready to present what Bangladesh can offer. It’s a different Bangladesh,” BIDA Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam says.

“The focus is totally different,” he said, speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday in Dhaka, before the week-long visit which will start from Apr 18 with a focus on Netherlands' strengths - water, IT and agriculture.

The delegation led by him will comprise members of investment promoting agencies such as BEZA, Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority and Public-Private Partnership Authority and shipping and water secretaries, along with 50-strong team of Dutch Bangla Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DBCCI).

In Brussels, they will meet the Belgian government officials and the officials of the EU headquarters. There will be a business-to-business networking meeting in Brussels. They will also visit the Antwerp port.

On April 22, they will go to the Netherlands where they will hold a seminar and business networking meeting. They will also visit Rotterdam Port before leaving for Dhaka on Apr 25.

The visit is taking place at a time when Bangladesh has fulfilled the UN’s criteria to graduate to a ‘developing country’, sending a strong message to investors that, according to the UN, Bangladesh is a right place for investments.

Deputy Head of Mission of the Netherlands embassy in Dhaka Jeroen Steeghs termed the visit a “timely” initiative.

“It’s a very good sign,” he said at the briefing, as he believes “there is a lot of room for both sides to increase the trade”.

The Netherlands is the ninth largest importer of Bangladeshi goods worth $1 billion. It exports goods worth only $200 million.

Steeghs stressed branding Bangladesh as there is a negative perception about the investment opportunities in Bangladesh.

“There are a lot of profitable investment opportunities,” he said, citing the businesses of Dutch companies such as Unilever and Philips who are operating in Bangladesh for over 50 years.

They are producing and making money here, Steeghs said. “It is possible to have a profitable investment in Bangladesh."

“There is a problem with the branding of the image. This trade mission is very important,” he said.

Bangladesh is currently ranked 177th among 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking.

The BIDA has set an ambitious target of securing a place below 100 by 2021, which means at least 15 notches of improvement would be required a year.

It has taken a major reform package to ease the process of doing business in Bangladesh.

The executive chairman said the government would soon introduce one-stop service.

He said during their visit, they would tell the European investors: “You have capitals and Bangladesh is the best profit opportunities in this part of the world.”

He cited JETRO report that said Bangladesh is the best place for industry diversification in the region.

“This is the best destination compared with other countries. They (JETRO) are telling the Japanese to invest here saying profitability is higher here than in other places." He said they will present the “real picture” of Bangladesh.

“This is not the country with disaster – it’s a country of political stability with quality workforce and it’s a country which is undertaking massive reform initiatives in many areas. It’s a country where a lot of infrastructures are being developed."

He said the UN’s announcement of Bangladesh’s eligibility to be a developing country proves that Bangladesh is not a country of economic growth only, it is also doing well both in human assets index and economic vulnerability index – criteria for the graduation from the LDC.