Prime minister Sheikh Hasinaon Mondaywooed Indian business leaders urging them to invest in Bangladesh, particularly in its infrastructure projects, and power and energy, manufacturing and transport sectors.
"The Indian business community can take full advantage of Bangladesh's steady economic growth, high demographic dividend, cheaper business cost and huge consumer base," she said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of a business event at Hotel Taj Palace.
Mentioning an Indo-Bangla investment agreement is already in place to protect Indian investment, Hasina said, "We're providing attractive packages, including 100 per cent repatriation of profit and invested capital."
Ministers and state ministers of India and Bangladesh, the president of Chamber of Commerce of India, FBCCI president, other business leaders of both the countries attended the meeting.
"I hope this event will enable us to reflect on how we want to see the collective future of our two economic communities," Hasina told her audience.
Drawing attention of the entrepreneurs that today all are witnessing major political and economic uncertainties, Hasina said, "At the same time, we're observing the continuation of prosperity and economic gains in Asian countries. Presently, South Asia is recognised as the fastest growing region of the world."
In Bangladesh, Hasina said, her government has been equally making significant and economic progress. "We're on track to become middle-income 'Digital Bangladesh' by 2021 and a developed country by 2041."
She mentioned that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in its report titled 'The World in 2050' has predicted that India will be the world's 3rd largest economy by 2030, while Bangladesh will be the 29th economy by 2030.
Hasina said Bangladesh is currently getting benefits of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from 38 countries of the world, including the EU, Japan, Australia and Canada.
"You can also avail yourselves of duty- and quota-free benefits extended to Bangladesh from countries such as China, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Chile. We've a huge market of around 160 million people with 30 per cent of population having the middle-class affordability," the prime minister said.
She said Bangladesh has declared to build 100 special economic zones to boost industrialisation and attract foreign investment while some of the economic zones in Mongla, Bheramara and Mirsarai have been exclusively dedicated to Indian investors.
Noting that energy security continues to remain an important element of business, she said, "Our power generation now has reached 15,726 megawatts."
Hasina said Bangladesh's investment in infrastructural development has now risen to $ 6.32 billion and the country needs to invest $ 20 billion annually till 2030 to take the full advantage of high demographic dividend and low labour cost.
She said her government has taken up massive infrastructure development projects like the Padma Multipurpose Bridge and Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, which will significantly change the future of the country.
"I would urge the Indian investors to consider possible investments in infrastructure projects, power and energy, manufacturing and transport sectors," she said adding, "I urge you to take this opportunity to bring your businesses and investments in Bangladesh."
The prime minister also mentioned various socio-economic achievements of her government over the last eight years, including achieving GDP growth between 6 and 7 per cent in the past eight years.
"We expect that the GDP growth will progressively reach to 8 per cent by 2020," she said.
She said Bangladesh's foreign exchange reserve currently stands at nearly $ 32 billion. "We've received over 2 billion US dollars of FDI and planned to raise the FDI level to 9.6 billion US dollars by 2020."
Mentioning that the country's export earnings reached over $ 34 billion in 2015-16, the prime minister said, "With the increasingly diversified export basket, we're planning to enhance annual export earnings to $ 54 billion by 2020."
Besides, she said, target has also been set for $5 billion ICT exports by 2021 while per capita income has gone up to $ 1,466.
The prime minister, however, came down heavily on BNP for its allegation of selling the country during her India visit. "Those who are saying that we have sold our country are just foolish," she said.
Pointing to the business community coming from Bangladesh as part of her entourage, she said, "You've seen here whether we have sold the country or achieved something here."
Indian minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dr Darmendra Pradhan, chairman of Indian conglomerate and former president of the Association of Chambers of India Adi Godrej and incumbent president of Swandeep Jaiodia, president of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Matlub Ahmad and former president of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Harsh Mariwala, among others, spoke on the occasion.