Call for coordinated efforts, solving challenges to draw more FDI from UK

Speakers at a webinar today underscored the need for ensuring coordinated efforts and solving existing challenges to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the United Kingdom.

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) organized the webinar on “Exploring Trade and FDI Opportunities with the UK” through zoom, said a press release.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam joined the webinar as the chief guest while British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Chatterton Dickson and Bangladesh High Commissioner to UK Saida Muna Tasneem also joined as special guests.

DCCI President Shams Mahmud moderated the webinar while Executive Director of SANEM Dr Selim Raihan presented the keynote paper.

Shahriar Alam said the UK will give Bangladesh duty- and quota-free access till 2027 and regarding new tariff regime, Bangladesh is in the process of discussion.

“In the post pandemic situation, our export is in the right track. To bring more FDI from UK, we need to intensify and broaden partnership dialogues under proposed BD-UK joint Commission after UK’s exit from the EU,” he added.

He said they need to frame out a post-Covid new market strategy and establish a digital market place to promote Bangladeshi innovative products in UK market. “Besides, connecting Bangladeshi diaspora especially British-Bangladeshi youth is very important,” he added.

Saida Muna Tasneem said that chambers of commerce in Britain are not very much aware of Bangladesh.

“Exchanging regular communication between the chambers is key to boost trade and investment,” she added.

She underscored importance of product diversification as Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have a good opportunity to tap UK’s halal market and light engineering sector.

“We should try to sustain the GSP beyond the LDC graduation. In the services sector, if we want the British companies to come in, there should be a policy decision,” she added.

Robert Chatterton Dickson said that diversification of products is necessary to increase export competitiveness.

He said pharmaceuticals, IT, education, healthcare, service and financial sector have the potential to attract UK investments.

“Reducing cost of doing business and policy reforms are important to attract FDI. Bangla Bond in London Stock Exchange creates an opportunity for the business community of both countries to work closely together. We are also keen to strengthen our existing trade relation with Bangladesh,” he added.

Shams Mahmud said UK is a large trade and investment partner of Bangladesh since long and Bangladesh’s export to UK was $3.45 billion in FY2019-20 whereas it was $4.83 billion in FY2018-19, having a negative growth of 28.57 percent.

“UK becomes the second biggest foreign investor in Bangladesh registering accumulated FDI stock of $2.45 billion as of March, 2020. More than 200 British companies are operating in Bangladesh. To attract more investment from UK, Bangladesh needs to design innovative model of diversified product base,” he added.