100 Special Economic Zones

Foreign investment to pick up substantially


A number of countries have in the recent past shown keen interest in investing for manufacturing products as they believe Bangladesh is an ideal place for investment.

Many of the investors said that the country has political commitment and has also offered security which are quite important in doing ‘ease of business’. They said that Bangladesh has achieved remarkable growth over the decade and to sustain that trend it now seeks foreign investment to take its growth to the next level.

The government has already taken special initiatives to attract the foreign investment in special economic zones (SEZs) as it is establishing 100 SEZs across the country.

These economic zones will be established by 2030 across the country, in all potential areas including backward and underdeveloped regions with a view to encouraging rapid economic development through increase and diversification of industry, employment, production and export through Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA).

Besides, BEZA is also offering one-stop services to the investors for more than 100 infrastructure-related and utility services. Once completed, SEZs are expected to create jobs for 10 million people and produce products and services worth US$40 billion.
In recent time, BEZA gave pre-qualification certificate to private-run Hosendi Economic Zone located at Hosendi union under Gazaria upazila in Munshiganj district.

Currently, an investment-friendly environment is prevailing in Bangladesh and the government is offering many facilities to global investors for attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

On several occasions, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina continued seeking both public and private investment from foreign countries in larger volume in special economic zones for mutual trade benefit.

“After China, Japan and India, now many more countries including, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and South Korea, are showing interest to set up economic zones to invest in Bangladesh”, Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Advisor Salman F Rahman informed recently.
As part of implementing the infrastructure, country’s Mirsarai Economic Zone in port city Chattrogram is ready for investment, sources in the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) said.

The BEPZA is implementing the project in order to attract $ 1.25 billion investment and generate 0.15 million jobs for local people.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said, “The country is developing fast, and becoming a major attraction for foreign investors.”

“Japan, Korea, China, India including other countries have already invested in the country’s economic zones while many more investment proposals are in the pipeline. Investors can take the opportunities to invest in the country’s ready-made garments, jute and jute goods, leather goods, ICT and other potentials sectors of the country,” said the commerce minister.

It is to be noted, in 2019, the country’s foreign direct investment hit an all time high, increasing by 51 percent compared to the same period of previous year. According to available data from the central bank, in 2018-19 fiscal, Bangladesh's net Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stood at $3.88 billion whereas the net FDI was $2.58 billion in the previous year. FDI increased by $1.1 billion in Sep 2019, compared with an increase of $1.6 billion in the previous quarter.

Experts have envisaged that the FDI would increase more once the special economic zones go into operation in full swing. Bangladesh Bank puts the FDI in three categories: equity, reinvestment of earnings, and intra-company loan. The FDI posted a significant jump in equity capital, or new investment, climbing 94 percent year-on-year to $1.19 billion.

Intra-company loans rose by 87 percent to $1.33 billion and reinvestment of earnings by existing foreign companies grew 8.77 percent to $1.36 billion.
Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority, Paban Chowdhury told Bangladesh Post, “Many investors from China, Japan and European countries have expressed their eagerness to invest in our economic zones which proves that Bangladesh has become a lucrative place for foreign investors. We have been preparing our new economic zones and investors are waiting to invest. The foreign investment will is substantially rise as the SEZ are fully ready.”

The project, BEPZA Economic Zone, Mirsarai (1st phase) is also expecting to generate $ 1.50 billion export earning annually to boost the socio-economic development of the country, said officials.
BEPZA in the first phase would set up 250 industrial units in the economic zone by developing land and other infrastructures, according to the Development Project Proforma (DPP).

Eight export processing zones (EPZs) under BEPZA located in Chattogram, Dhaka, Mongla, Cumilla, Ishwardi, Uttar (Nilphamari), Adamzi and Karnaphuli across the country have already earned reputation for attracting investment.

In the eight EPZs, the cumulative investment stood at $ 4.28 billion as of April this year.
In those EPZs, a total of 600 organizations have been given permission to install industrial units, of which 469 industrial units are in production while 131 units are on the way to production.

According to development information, a massive development took place in the country specially education, health, transport, communication, land and agriculture sectors since the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government took office in 2009.
Bangladesh has also become one of the world’s economic success stories. Aided by a fast-growing manufacturing sector — its garment industry is second only to China’s.