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PM Sheikh Hasina Pledges to Transform Bangladesh into a Top Investment Destination

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In a recent address during her visit to China, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina underscored the pivotal role China has played in bolstering Bangladesh’s infrastructure projects, technological advancements, and economic growth. Highlighting the resilience and progress of Bangladesh, she detailed the nation’s remarkable journey, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic.

Bangladesh stands out as one of the few economies that continued to thrive amid the global health crisis. The country is on track to graduate from the UN’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) list in 2026, showcasing its resilience and ability to surmount challenges. Over the past half-decade, Bangladesh has maintained a strategic economic growth average of 6.75%, expanding its economy from USD 102 billion in 2009 to over USD 460 billion in 2023. Just before the pandemic struck, the economy boasted a growth rate of 8.1%.

The Prime Minister highlighted key economic indicators, noting that Bangladesh’s per capita income has reached USD 2,784. The country’s export volume has surpassed the USD 50 billion mark, and it received a net Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of USD 2.8 billion in 2022. Additionally, Bangladesh is among the top remittance-earning countries globally and ranks as the world’s 33rd largest economy. Projections suggest that by the first half of the 2030s, Bangladesh could ascend to become the 24th largest economy. The nation offers one of the most liberal investment regimes globally, facilitated by the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), which provides comprehensive services to foreign investors under one roof. The government has also implemented significant reforms to create a more business-friendly environment, enhancing the ease of doing business and ensuring a secure and reputable investment landscape.

Prime Minister Hasina stated, “We aim to position Bangladesh as one of the most attractive destinations in the world.” To achieve sustainable economic growth, the government has formulated a logistics policy aimed at boosting domestic and international trade and investment through the construction of a world-class, technology-based, time and cost-efficient, and environmentally friendly logistics system. Significant investments are being made in both digital and physical infrastructure to transform Bangladesh into a comprehensive logistics hub with regional and international connectivity.

Among the megaprojects completed are the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, the Karnaphuli River Tunnel (Bangabandhu Tunnel), the Matarbari Deep Sea Port, the expanded third terminal at Dhaka International Airport, the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, and the Dhaka Metro Rail System. These projects are pivotal in strengthening the nation’s infrastructure.

The Prime Minister also emphasized the nationwide coverage of electricity and internet access, highlighting the launch of Bangladesh’s first communication satellite, Bangabandhu-1, as a milestone in technological advancement. Additionally, Bangladesh boasts the world’s second-largest number of registered IT freelancers. The vision is to build a smart Bangladesh by 2041, encompassing a smart citizenry, smart government, smart economy, and smart society. Continuous upgrades to seaports, airports, and land routes are being made to meet international standards, ensuring efficient and seamless logistics.

One of Bangladesh’s greatest assets is its youthful and dynamic workforce, with a median age of around 27 years. This population is characterized by energy, dedication, sincerity, and strong work ethics. The nation’s youth are poised to actively participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In her address to the Chinese business community, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extended a warm invitation to invest in Bangladesh, highlighting the nation’s advantageous pool of skilled and semi-skilled labor, which is both cost-effective and highly capable.

“I encourage the Chinese business community to consider key sectors in Bangladesh. We welcome investments in our infrastructure, energy, renewable energy, and logistics sectors,” she stated. She emphasized opportunities in climate-resilient smart agriculture, agro-processing, and the establishment of a special tourism zone where China can invest in real estate and hospitality. The Prime Minister also urged Chinese investors to explore fruitful ventures in Bangladesh’s capital markets. The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) is actively enhancing the capital market to make it more attractive to foreign investors. Notable progress includes the development of a robust bond market and the introduction of derivatives products, which will diversify and expand financial markets. There are numerous opportunities in renewable energy, pest management, and green technologies. “Investors will find that Bangladesh is committed to ensuring profitable business operations,” she assured.

Bangladesh is eager to increase its exports to China, particularly in textiles, garments, leather goods, jute products, and agricultural items. The country welcomes Chinese investment in export-oriented industries to help diversify its export basket and reduce trade deficits. To enhance business cooperation, the Prime Minister encouraged Chinese companies to form joint ventures with Bangladeshi firms.

“The partnership between Bangladesh and China holds unbounded promise,” she declared. “Our shared vision for economic growth, technological advancement, and sustainable development forms the cornerstone of our bilateral relationship. Together, we can create a prosperous future that benefits both our countries and people.”

Prime Minister Hasina warmly invited the Chinese business community to visit Bangladesh, explore the abundant opportunities, and experience the warmth and hospitality of its people. “Let us work together to build a stronger, more prosperous, and more connected world,” she concluded.

Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to China, under the banner of “The Rise of Bengal Tiger: Summit on Trade, Business, and Investment Opportunities Between Bangladesh & China,” showcased Bangladesh’s immense potential to Chinese businesses, highlighting the synergistic opportunities for growth and collaboration between the two nations.

The event was attended by Salman Fazlur Rahman, the Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Advisor; Abul Hasan Mahmud, the Finance Minister; Md. Atiqul Islam, the Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation; Nasrul Hamid, the State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources; Zunaid Ahmed Palak, the State Minister for Post, Telecommunications, and Information Technology; Ahasanul Islam Titu, the State Minister for Commerce; Mohammad Tofazzal Hossain Miah, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister; ambassadors, various institutional and individual investors, and stakeholders.

Other notable speakers at the event included Lokman Hossain Miah, the Executive Chairman of BIDA; Yao Wen, the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh; and investors, industrialists, and businesspeople from China and Bangladesh.

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China’s economy grew less than expected in second quarter: official data

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China’s economy grew 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2024, official data showed Monday, less than analysts had expected.

“By quarter, the GDP for the first quarter increased by 5.3 percent year on year and for the second quarter 4.7 percent,” Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.

The figures were much lower than the 5.1 percent predicted by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Retail sales — a key gauge of consumption — also slowed to just two percent in June, the NBS said, down from 3.7 percent in May.

The world’s second-largest economy is grappling with a real estate debt crisis, weakening consumption, an ageing population and trade tensions with Western rivals.

Top officials are meeting in Beijing on Monday for a key plenum, with all eyes on how they might kickstart lacklustre growth.

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Concerns Mount Over Revenue Loss as South Asia’s Largest Land Port Curtails Operations

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Bangladeshi officials are grappling with fears of revenue loss as the largest land port in South Asia, situated along the India-Bangladesh border, has ceased operations for 10 hours each day since July 11.

The Petrapole Land Port in India, crucial for trade between the two nations, has been shutting down from 6 PM to 8 AM daily, without providing any explanation for the closure, according to officials from the Benapole Land Authority in Bangladesh. This unexpected halt has left Bangladeshi authorities and traders in a state of uncertainty, as there is no indication of when the operations might resume to normalcy.

Industry insiders warn that this disruption could lead to a significant revenue shortfall at Benapole port due to decreased imports, adversely affecting Bangladeshi importers with delayed product deliveries.

Rezaul Karim, Director of Traffic at Benapole Land Port Authority, emphasized that while Benapole has been maintaining 24-hour operations, Petrapole’s recent restrictions are hindering cargo truck movements after evening.

“We have inquired with the Petrapole port authority about the reasons for halting trade services after evening. They responded that the matter is under discussion with relevant authorities,” Karim said.

Sultan Mahmud Bipul, Secretary of Benapole C&F Agent Association International Checkpost Affairs, highlighted the fiscal implications of this disruption. “Benapole port has set a revenue target of Tk6,705 crore from imported goods for the fiscal year 2024-25. If the 24-hour import facility remains discontinued, it will severely impact our revenue targets,” he noted.

Ziaur Rahman, General Secretary of Benapole Landport Importers and Exporters Association, pointed out the severe impact on trade, particularly with perishable goods. “Traders dealing with perishable food products are incurring the biggest losses due to this halt. The inability of goods trucks to enter after evening will widen the trade deficit,” Rahman remarked.

As the situation unfolds, the Benapole Land Port Authority and associated trade bodies continue to seek clarity and resolution from their Indian counterparts to mitigate the economic repercussions of this operational disruption.

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DCCI Urge Streamlined Tax Mechanisms for Enhanced Compliance, Reduced Costs

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The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has called on the government to simplify tax procedures to foster better comprehension, ease compliance, and minimize time, effort, and expenses.

“Corporate tax calculations should adhere to accounting standards, and compliant businesses should occasionally receive incentives,” stated Ashraf Ahmed, DCCI President, during a workshop on “Customs, VAT, and Income Tax Management” held at the DCCI office in the capital, according to a press release issued today.

The workshop was organized by DCCI to inform professionals from its member organizations about recent amendments in relevant laws as outlined in the 2024-25 budget.

Prominent Speakers and Insights
The event featured key presentations by Md Zakir Hossain, Commissioner of Customs, Excise, and VAT Commissionerate, Dhaka East; Snehasish Barua, FCA, Adviser to the DCCI Standing Committee on Customs, VAT, and NBR-related issues; and MBM Lutful Hadi, FCA, Vice-president of ICAB.

Ashraf Ahmed emphasized that automation would diminish discretionary measures and curb leakages. He asserted that compliant businesses encounter fewer hassles, adding that a transparent and accountable revenue system would expand the tax base while reducing complications.

Ahmed further highlighted the positive aspects of the VAT Act, Income Tax Act, and Customs Act, urging their practical application.

VAT Act Amendments and Revenue Goals
Md Zakir Hossain clarified that no major changes were introduced in the new VAT Act, but two procedural adjustments were made for the NBR. He acknowledged that to meet increased revenue collection targets, pressure on all taxpayers, including VAT-paying companies, would rise slightly. He encouraged businesses to familiarize themselves with the VAT Act to benefit from existing rebate facilities.

Snehasish Barua noted that the NBR’s revenue collection target for the current fiscal year is Tk4.8 lakh crore, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. He advocated for reducing import duties to stimulate industrialization and economic growth, stressing the need for a sustainable revenue system in light of the country’s economic conditions.

MBM Lutful Hadi urged the government to properly implement the new Customs Act, designed to lower business costs. He underscored the importance of ensuring a sustainable revenue framework.

Workshop Participation and Key Takeaways
Approximately 90 representatives from DCCI member organizations attended the workshop, gaining a clear understanding of the new rules and procedures to aid their respective entities in lawful calculations.

DCCI Vice-president Md. Junaed Ibna Ali, Directors Kamrul Hasan Tuhin, and M. Mosharraf Hossain were also present during the event.

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