US investment in Bangladesh on the rise: Bernicat

American investment in Bangladesh is on the rise thanks to the growing investment opportunities in infrastructure and the fast expanding middle-class, US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat said yesterday.

The foreign direct investment from the US to Bangladesh surpasses all other countries, Bernicat said at the monthly luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Bangladesh, held at the capital’s Westin Hotel yesterday.

“Our net FDI into Bangladesh over the most recent fiscal year was $450 million, putting us in the first place. The accumulated value of US investment — what we call “stock” measurement — is $3.2 billion, also putting the US in first place.”

However, there are many more opportunities that the American companies can seize. “Clearly, the US firms are strongly interested in this promising market.”

Bangladesh offers one of the world’s fast growing economies, sustained impressive economic performance over decades, opportunities to enhance infrastructure and a burgeoning middle-class, she said.

Citing the annual investment climate statements made by the US on 170 countries, Bernicat said this year’s report on Bangladesh highlighted investment opportunities in power, pharmaceuticals, information technology, telecom and infrastructure. “The US is a nation that truly values informational transparency, and for that reason, the annual investment climate statements also include market challenges like inadequate infrastructure, governmental and bureaucratic delays and concerns over workers’ rights and safety.”

Bernicat said the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking, which was unveiled this week, also highlighted the continued challenges and brought focus on areas that need to be addressed.

She advised all concerned to review the current investment climate statement and to continue to provide feedback to her and the embassy on how to make the reports more accurate in future.

The investment climate statement is one of the many methods that the US use to communicate its public and private sector priorities to the Bangladesh government.

Bangladesh is set to discuss bilateral trade issues with the US in the third Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement meeting, due to be held in the US next month, she said.

While speaking on the topic of overcoming challenges for foreign investment, Kazi M Aminul Islam, executive chairman of the newly formed Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, laid out the government’s initiatives for attracting FDI.

He said a process is underway for using public sector land asset for private sector development.

For instance, properties vested with the BIDA will be in a land pool that can be used by the private sector players.

The government will soon make the ‘one-stop service’ fully functional and in so doing will resolve the bottlenecks caused by service delivery agencies.

Besides, BIDA is engaged with the WB to work out extensive regulatory reforms for promotion of investment and trade, Islam added.

AmCham President Nurul Islam also spoke.

Source: The Daily Star

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