A number of UAE business groups are set to invest $10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) into Bangladesh, according to data compiled by Bangladesh Economic Forum, which takes place at Conrad Dubai Hotel on Sunday.
More than 300 government officials, business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs will participate in the day-long international investment conference, aimed at strengthening the flow of trade and investment between the UAE and Bangladesh, reports Saudi Gazette.
Bangladeshis are major investors in the UAE economy where more than 50,000 businesses are owned and successfully run by Bangladeshi expatriates who employ more than 150,000 people collectively.
Salman Fazlur Rahman, Advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister for Private Industry and Investment will deliver a keynote address at the 2nd Edition of Bangladesh Economic Forum. He is leading a 20-member government delegation comprising of officials of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA).
BIDA, BEZA, and BHTPA – the three Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) of Bangladesh Government are participating in such an international investment conference in the Gulf for the first time – undertaken by Bangladesh Economic Forum, a private sector initiative of the UAE-base Non-Resident Bangladeshi professionals and entrepreneurs.
As many as 20 fresh investment projects are being prepared to be tabled at Bangladesh Economic Forum where investors are expected to meet and discuss their projects with Mr Salman F Rahman and the visiting Bangladesh official delegation.
Bangladesh economy is growing at 7.9 percent in FY18. Bangladesh is on a growth overdrive that will see its economy growing at 8 percent plus in the next few years which will make it the fastest growing economy in the world. In order to sustain 8 percent-plus GDP growth, Bangladesh needs massive foreign and domestic investment which will create employment and ensure sustainable development.
The UAE and the GCC countries could be major sources for investment into Bangladesh. Time has come for Bangladesh to expedite investment opportunities from the UAE and help build the country's future.
"Bangladesh is more than ready to receive a higher level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that jumped 69 percent last year to US$3.61 billion," Salman F. Rahman, Advisor to Bangladesh Prime Minister for Private Industry and Investment, who works closely with Bangladesh Prime Minister, said.
"We have seen large investments coming from China, Japan, and the United States. We believe, investors from the GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, should take advantage of the lower cost of investment, operations and higher return on investment in Bangladesh.
"Domestic consumption is increasing in Bangladesh as more than 2 million people are joining the middle-income group and becoming consumers – that opens up more scope and opportunities for new investors.
"We are developing 100 economic zones and 28 hi-tech parks in Bangladesh for investors to set up their operations and benefit from the lowest labor cost and very low operational costs. Our brothers and investor friends from the UAE and Gulf should benefit from the growing opportunities in Bangladesh."
Bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the UAE is set to reach to a completely new level this year with the US$10 billion worth of investment pledged by UAE investors into Bangladesh's energy, ports, power and infrastructure sectors that will help fuel the economic growth of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh and the UAE signed four memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on establishing a port, industrial park, supply and setting up a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, power plants, and a special economic zone in Bangladesh, during a three-day visit by Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the UAE in February this year.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, met Sheikh Hasina and discussed ways of furthering ties of friendship and cooperation in a way that serves mutual interest. They also tackled a host of issues of common interest.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina witnessed the signing of the documents at St Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The Government of Dubai and Public Private Partnership (PPP) Authority under the Prime Minister's Office signed the first MoU to set up a port, dry port, and an industrial park in Bangladesh. Chairman of DP World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, and Bangladesh Shipping Secretary, M Abdus Samad, signed the document.
The second MoU was signed between Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) and Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources of Bangladesh, to supply LNG to Bangladesh on a long-term basis and develop a land-based LNG receiving terminal in Payra. State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid, and ENOC Group CEO, Saif Humaid Al Falasi, signed the MoU on behalf of their respective sides.
ENOC also wanted 300 acres of land in Payra Port where they would construct the LNG terminal that will help boost Bangladesh's energy security.
The third MoU was signed between Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum and the Power Development Board of Bangladesh (PDB). The objective of this MoU was to set up an integrated 800-1000 MW LNG power plant in two phases. There will also be a 100MW solar power project. Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum and PDB Chairman Khaled Mahmud signed the MoU on behalf of their respective sides.
The fourth MoU was signed between the private office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum and the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA). The focus of this MoU was on setting up a special economic zone in Matarbari. They wanted 300 acres of land where they would set up a company for investment.
The UAE's Almaden Emirates Fortune Power and Bangladesh's Intraco Solar Power signed a preliminary agreement in February this year to develop solar plants backed by investment commitment of $5 billion from the Arab Investment Development Authority (AIDA).
AIDA, which is supported by the European Union and the United Nations, has a mandate to develop and finance sovereign projects across the subcontinent, Mena as well as Africa in human development, energy, infrastructure, agriculture as well as technology.
The solar development will be completed over a six or eight-year timeline and will see the deployment of 14 million solar panels, with a total capacity of 5 Gigawatts, in one of the largest such investments in the sector in Bangladesh.
The project will help reduce electricity generation costs and create jobs from both the power plants and the proposed solar manufacturing facility based on an annual 500 Megawatts capacity.
The development will reach its maximum capacity by 2030. The solar scheme would be a significant addition of power generation capacity to Bangladesh. The government had in its power sector master plan in 2016 envisioned a potential for renewables to contribute 3.6 Gigawatts of power generation.
"These investments will strengthen the bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and the UAE and will deepen our economic relations to a strategic partnership level," Muhammad Imran, Bangladesh Ambassador to the UAE, says.
"Bangladesh economy last year grew at 7.9 percent and we expect it to grow at 8.3 percent this year. This will make Bangladesh the fastest growing economy in the world and we would like our brothers in the UAE to benefit from our growth in the coming years. It is heartening to see that our relationship is moving towards the right strategic direction where both countries could be partners in each other's economic growth."
Bangladesh Economic Forum is aimed at forging stronger relationship among the public sector policymakers and private sector investors and business community that will help accelerate the economic growth of the GCC countries and Bangladesh who are fast-tracking investment projects that are crucial for the economic development of all stakeholders.
Bangladesh Economic Forum is also aimed at promoting two-way trade and investment between the GCC Countries and Bangladesh. It offers a golden opportunity for UAE-based investors and business groups to benefit from the economic opportunities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Economic Forum will bring investors and projects owners face to face to network and strike business deals for mutual benefit.
Shaikh Abdul Karim, an investment advisor and Member of Bangladesh Economic Forum, says, "As a private advisory group, Bangladesh Economic Forum is ready to bridge the gap between Bangladeshi project owners and UAE investors as well as the gap between the public sector investment promotion agencies and the investor community and help support all investment projects.