Presently, she said 100 special economic zones and 28 high-tech parks are being set up across the country aimed at encouraging investment and rapid economic development through increase and diversification of industry, employment, production and export.

“For the Indian investors, two dedicated Special Economic Zones at Mongla and Mirsari are being developed. I would urge the business houses present here today to invest there,” she said.

The prime minister said it would further pave the way to harness the good will of the two friendly countries, and bring economic prosperity to the region as Bangladesh is uniquely located to enable Indian investors to export their products to not only the North Eastern States of India, but also to Nepal, Bhutan, and to South East Asian countries.

For the Indian investors, two dedicated Special Economic Zones at Mongla and Mirsari are being developed. I would urge the business houses present here today to invest there
Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh prime minister

Indeed, she said that the time is ripe for the Indian business community to focus more on Bangladesh and take advantage of its economic growth, cheaper cost and huge consumer base.

Sheikh Hasina said they have implemented mega projects to accelerate the growth of industries and to take full advantage of our strategic location.

The prime minister mentioned that Bangladesh and India have the best of relations and said the two neighbouring countries’ relations are known as the “Role Model of Neighborhood Diplomacy”.

She went on saying: “Bangladesh is India’s most important development and trading partner. India receives the highest number of tourists and medical patients from Bangladesh.”

In this connection, she said that thousands of Indian nationals are now working in Bangladesh, contributing to both the economies.

She hoped that deep bonds of friendship existing between Bangladesh and India shall continue to grow and flourish.

“As it does, the business communities of both countries should draw close and play their due role in fostering mutual prosperity and economic advancement of our peoples. Thereby, we would be able to bring prosperity and peace in the region,” she added.

The prime minister further said the business event provides an opportunity to discuss and share ideas among the two countries’ business leaders.

There is a real need for more collaboration between our two countries by way of involving business communities and trade bodies to find avenues towards deriving two-way trade and investment benefits
Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh prime minister

“I believe successful ventures call for policy makers and business leaders to know each other, share ideas and understand respective priorities, prospects and future plans. This event will hopefully enable reflection on mutual collaboration on enhancing business, trade, investment between our friendly countries,” she said.

No doubt, she said the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected global trade while the war in Ukraine has caused significant rise of commodity and fuel prices worldwide.

“It has severely affected the established supply chain. This has led many countries, including those of South Asia, to suffer from an acute economic crisis,” she said.

However, Sheikh Hasina said it is heartening to note that despite the ongoing challenges, India is among the foremost fastest growing major economies in the world.

Many experts predict India’s economy, which is 5th largest now, is likely to become the world’s third-largest by 2050 following the United States and China, she said, adding that in fact, the World Bank, ADB and IMF projects India to remain the fastest growing major economy in the world during 2021-24.

The prime minister said Bangladesh too, since the devastating liberation war in 1971, as a sovereign, independent country come a long way inspired by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s dream of “Sonar Bangla”- the Golden Bengal.

“From those days of famines and food-aid dependency, Bangladesh is today self-sufficient in food. It is now one of the largest global producers of rice, vegetables, grains, and fresh-water fish - to name a few,” she said.

Bangladesh, which had in the past suffered from natural calamities, is today a global example of disaster preparedness and management, she said.

It has also achieved huge socio-economic success, attained impressive growth and thus dubbed a ‘Development Miracle,’ she added.

Bangladesh commerce minister Tipu Munshi, Indian minister for development of north eastern region G. Kishan Reddy, president of FBCCI Md Jashim Uddin and Director General of CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) Chandrajit Banerjee spoke on the occasion.

The prime minister said Bangladesh’s economy grew over a decade crossing 7.0 per cent in FY 2015-16, and 8.0 per cent in FY 2018-19.

“Since 2009, the per capita income has increased three times from around USD 1,000 to more than USD 2,800 today. Moreover, remittance in the fiscal year 2021-2022 increased to USD 21,031.68 million. These indices reflect the strength of Bangladesh’s economy,” she said.

In the last 10 years, she said that the total bilateral trade between Bangladesh and India had an impressive growth with the balance heavily in favour of India, she said.

The prime minister said that at present with its improved manufacturing capacity, Bangladesh is prepared to supply quality products at competitive prices to the Indian market.

“We, therefore, invite Indian importers to look at Bangladeshi products which are being imported at higher price from countries far away,” she continued.

She mentioned that to enable larger gains, Bangladesh-India cooperation should go beyond trade and said that it should include investment, finance, services, technology transfer, and be placed within the context of regional cooperation.

The prime minister informed the Indian businesspersons that in the fiscal year of 2021-22, the total amount of FDI inflow to Bangladesh was USD 1370.357 million while the amount from India was only USD 15.751 million attributing only 1.15 per cent.

“So definitely, there is a real need for more collaboration between our two countries by way of involving business communities and trade bodies to find avenues towards deriving two-way trade and investment benefits,” she said.

She told the event that the Padma Bridge, Bangladesh’s longest, has been built entirely by our own funds which was inaugurated on 25 June this year.

“It has connected 21 southern districts directly with the capital and other parts of the country. It is expected to boost the country’s gross domestic product by 2-3 percent,” she said.

In the last decade, several other infrastructure projects have been initiated in Bangladesh, she said.

Among these are Bangladesh’s first metro rail project MRT Line-6, and the Karnafuli Tunnel - the first and longest underwater road tunnel in South Asia, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Dhaka Elevated Expressway, Dhaka Airport Third Terminal and some other mega-projects, she said.

“Once completed, they would contribute substantially to Bangladesh’s GDP growth,” she said.