Investment Opportunity in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is considered as one of the fastest growing economies of the world with the potential of becoming an economic and production hub for the region and the world. The World Bank estimates that Bangladesh is among the five fastest growing economies in the world (World Bank, 2019). The Asian Development Bank estimates that Bangladesh's economy will grow faster than those of its neighbors in 2020 (ADB, 2019). According to the studies on the factors of production done by JETRO Dhaka, Bangladesh is most competitive among the 33 cities in Asia.
- The country is growing around 7% for the last decades. Bangladesh has sustained a remarkable GDP growth rate for the last one decade and witnessed the highest growth in South Asia in 2018 (World Bank. 2018). As such one can invest in any sectors of Bangladesh with comfort.
- The market of Bangladesh is vibrant and growing. Bangladesh enjoys privileged market access globally as well as having a growing local market of around 170 million consumers with strong brand consciousness.
- GDP per capita and consumption expenditure have witnessed positive growth, which reflect higher living standard for Bangladeshis. Per Capita GDP in 2018-2019 was USD 1,909 which is maintaining an increasing trend.
- To ease the Doing Business Government of Bangladesh has taken massive reform initiatives to improve the investment climate of Bangladesh. Based on the World Bank's Rating of 'Doing business in Bangladesh' focused agency-wise reform activities are undertaken. We have targeted to attain rating below 100 among the 189 economies by 2021. It is expected that in the coming years Bangladesh will be able to reach the goal.
- Bangladesh is considered as one of the attractive destinations for business and investment opportunity due to presence of abundant cost-competitive work force, investment friendly environment, diversified natural resources and strong macro-economic fundamentals.
- Educated, trainable, enthusiastic, hardworking and cost competitive labor force suitable for industrial, service and agricultural sector. With a steady 1.37% population growth rate Bangladesh is expected to enjoy long-term demographic dividend. Currently, around 118 Million people are within the working age.
- Bangladesh has made significant strides in access to education, sanitation, employment, poverty alleviation etc. Bangladesh has emerged as the role model in women empowerment, education and employment.
- Bangladesh’s steady GDP growth for the last decade has been possible due to government’s firm commitment to patronizing private sector and prudent fiscal policy.
- There are a total of 88 Special Economic Zones across the country are developed to facilitate rapid economic development, of which 59 are government-owned and 29 are privately owned
- A total of 28 Hi-tech Parks and Software Technology Park, IT Incubation Centers are being developed to promote the ICT and IT sector in Bangladesh.
- Export Processing Zones (EPZs) are developed by the government of Bangladesh to promote export and create employment opportunity by attracting investment.
- While the Global FDI remained flat in 2019, FDI inflow into Bangladesh surged by 51% to $3.88 billion in 2018-19 which is a testament of the confidence that foreign investors have towards Bangladesh and its potential.
Incentives for the Investors
Bangladesh offers the most congenial and investors friendly investment climate in Bangladesh. Almost all the sectors are open for foreign investment without any capping on amount or percentage of equity.
Ownership Options as a Foreign Investor
Wholly owned subsidiaries
Under the ‘Companies Act 1994, foreign companies and business entities can establish a fully owned subsidiaries in Bangladesh. The new business entity can be either a private limited or a public limited company.
Joint ventures between and foreign companies and Bangladeshi partners are encouraged as well. The equity ownership structure will depend on the amount invested by each party.
Investing in an existing Bangladeshi company
Foreign investors can invest to local companies (except for a few sectors) as there are no restrictions in transferring shares to the foreign investors. They can do regular trading/selling of their shares irrespective of their ownership percentage.
One-man Private Limited Company Formation
In order to make the business environment friendlier, the Government has amended the Companies Act (Draft) whereby a single person can form a limited company.
Permanent resident is permitted on investing US$ 75,000 and citizenship on investing US$ 500,000.
No restrictions on issuance of work permits to project related foreign nationals and employees
Tax Holiday and Tax Exemption
- 5 to 10 years of Tax Holiday and reduced tax depending on area.
- 100% tax exemption on income and capital gain for certain projects under Public Private Partnership (PPP) for 10 years. Investments in select priority sectors such as Power, enjoy tax exemption for up to 15 years.
- 100% tax exemption from software development, Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network or Information Technology Enabled Services.
- 50% of income derived from export is exempted from tax.
- Tax exemption on royalties, technical knowhow and technical assistance fees and facilities for their repatriation.
- Tax exemption on interest paid on foreign loan.
Benefits for Export Oriented Businesses
- Exemption of customs duties on capital machineries
- Exemption of import duties on raw material used for producing export goods
- Tariff (if paid) refund on import of raw materials for export
- Bonded warehousing facilities for export oriented industries and for large import for local selling in certain items
- Exporters can take unto 90% loan against LC from banks
- The export credit guarantee schemes (ECGS) available in Bangladesh are administered by the Sadharan Bima Corporation (SBC). The ECGS covers the risk/solvency of buyers and political risks inherent in foreign trade.
- The export oriented sectors enjoy cash incentives and the respective rates to be provided are updated every year through circulars issued by Bangladesh Bank.
- The rate ranges from 2% to 20% given on the FOB value of the export proceeds.
- Enjoy DFQF EU & other 12 countries
Legal Protection and Repatriation
The policy framework for foreign investment in Bangladesh is based on 'The Foreign Private Investment (Promotion & Protection) Act. 1980,' which ensures legal protection to foreign investment in Bangladesh against nationalization and expropriation. It also guarantees non-discriminatory treatment between foreign and local investment, and repatriation of proceeds from sales of shares and profit.
Full repatriation of capital invested from foreign sources will be allowed. Similarly, profits and dividend accruing to foreign investment may be transferred in full. If foreign investors reinvest their dividends and or retained earnings, those will be treated as new investment.
Furthermore, Bangladesh is a signatory to MIGA, OPIC, ICSID, WAIPA, WIPO and WTO which provide further protection and support to the investors. Bangladesh also has signed bilateral investment treaties with 32 countries for promotion and protection of investment.
To ease the investors from paying double tax, Bangladesh has signed Avoidance of Double Taxation Treaty (DTT) with 32 countries, and another 18 countries is under negotiation.
International Agreements and Treaties
Bangladesh has investment treaties with the following countries Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Switzerland, Thailand, The Netherlands, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, and Indonesia. Negotiations are ongoing with India, Hungary, Oman, Maldova, DPRK, Egypt, Austria, Mauritius, and Uzbekistan.
Bangladesh is party to the following Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs):
- Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA);
- Trade Preferential System among OIC Countries (TPS-OIC);
- Preferential Trade Agreement among D-8 Member States (D-8)- not ratified
- Preferential Trade Agreement between Bangladesh and Iran; and
- Agreement on SAARC Preferential Trading arrangement (SAPTA);
Bangladesh is party to the following Free Trade Agreements (FTA):
- South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA);
- Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) (yet to be functional)
- Apparel- Global garment demand will increase by 65% within the 11years as the global population will increase by 16% at that time
- Frozen food
- Light engineering
- Agro based industries
- Construction material including steel Plant
- Ship building
- Energy & Power
One Stop Service Center by BIDA
The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) coordinated the establishment of a One-Stop Service Center. 150 services of 34 agencies are identified and process simplification of these have started. Once these are completed clients will get all necessary services from one point. Some of the important services are:
- Trade License from respective city corporation and local government body are given within 48 hours, assuming all required documents are provided.
- Company registration from Joint Stock Register’s office company registration complete within 48 hours.
- Registration of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority is complete within a day, assuming all required documents are provided.
- Electricity connection’s result are given within 10 days after receive the application from BIDA where representative of power development board authority is working.
- Environmental certificate are given within 10 days from BIDA where respective officer from Environment Department are working.
- From Bangladesh Investment Development Authority representative of Titas Gas Authority the result of gas connection are given within 10 days from the date of application received.
- Foreign loan borrowing application disposed within 30 days assuming all required documents are provided.
- Tax related complication is taken from BIDA by respective National Board of Revenue officer after getting application from entrepreneur and result are given within 10 days.