A meeting withEuropean Bangladesh Federation (EBF) and a select group of business leaders from Bangladesh

Date: 5 November 2009

The Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) and Asian Tiger Capital Partners (AT Capital) hosted a meeting withEuropean Bangladesh Federation (EBF) and a select group of business leaders from Bangladesh on November 5, 2009. This meeting was a part the project initiated by BEI and AT Capital on Establishment of an Effective Bangladeshi Diaspora Network for Economic Transformation of Bangladesh supported by the British Governments Department for International Development (DFID).

The meeting commenced with a warm welcome and introduction from the President of BEI, Mr.Farooq Sobhan. Mr. Sobhan highlighted the need for:

  • skills development through training our workforce in technical expertise
  • being bilingual and availability of human resources
  • necessity of matching supply to demand in Bangladesh
  • ease of access to Europe being a key issue for economic development.

He was optimistic towards the future of Bangladesh and proposed that Europe invest further as there is plenty of opportunity in Bangladesh.

MD. Minhaz Zia, Partner, AT Capital, made a brief presentation on investment opportunities in Bangladesh. He mentioned that:

  • Despite the global crisis, Bangladesh has been performing quite well with an economic growth of 6%. Also, relatively, the impact of globalization on Bangladesh hasn’t been that sharp.  Bangladesh is a densely populated country with the prospective to invest in the education and health sectors because of the urban population. It holds a large market due to its strategic location, e.g. neighboring China and India.
  • Although there has been a slowdown in migration, there has been a growth in remittance inflow. He stressed on the fact that the labor cost of Bangladesh is at 22 cents per hour, half of the rate in India, making it an attractive destination to invest in. He mentioned that it is the leading country in agriculture and highest export on the region of garments and can be expanded through further foreign investment. Recent government allocation of $7 billion on programs on power supply and infrastructure has escalated growth in the country. Bangladesh has entered the global radar and is now identified internationally.
  • Some negative aspects that were identified through the presentation were shortage of power supply which can be alleviated through exploitation of the natural coal reserves in Bangladesh. Mr. Zia ended his presentation with the note that there are many rising companies in Bangladesh that are open to foreign equity and would like the involvement in order to utilize Bangladesh’s resources to its potential.

Mr. Salahuddin Kasem Khan, M.D, A.K KHAN GROUP, President of BMCCI identified the RMG sector and huge scope for investment into the logistics in Bangladesh. Capt. A.T.K.M. Kamal, GM, Operations High Speed Group raised questions regarding cancellation of agreements from Dutch companies for investment in the shipbuilding sector. He mentioned that other investors from Germany and Netherlands are investing in the shipbuilding sector and there are more opportunities left to be explored.

European Delegates felt that the image of Bangladesh abroad is perceived negatively due to the news on political unrest. The political turbulence and instability of the country makes it a safety concern for foreigners.  Investors fear coming to Bangladesh and as a result the country looses potential growth that would entail through foreign involvement. Mr. Jacob Guodde, MD, Hollander Scholtens addressed that due to the credit crisis it has become more of a challenge to invest in Bangladesh and facing certain legal issues have also prevented them from entering into a venture with the country. The delegation informed that reforms need to be made in the Bangladesh Bank regulations to facilitate further foreign investment into Bangladesh from Europe and that the image of Bangladesh abroad needs to be improved.

Ms. Selima Ahmad, President, BWCCI, Mr. ASM Mainuddin Monem, DMD, Abdul Monem Limited, Dr. Sanawar Chowduhury, Executive Director, EBF, also expressed hope for further investment into Bangladesh for the Shipbuilding, Dredging, and Human Resource Development sector. They welcomed the European Delegates to engage into business with them in Bangladesh.

Mr. Farooq Sobhan concluded the meeting suggesting that Bangladesh is a very promising nation with various rising sectors and foreign countries should consider investing here to help exploit the resources efficiently that would form a beneficial relationship for both countries. The meeting adjourned with some positive outlook into the future and hope for investment involvements and further developments in Bangladesh.