In order to stimulate rapid economic growth of the country, particularly through industrialization, the government has adopted an 'Open Door Policy' to attract foreign investment to Bangladesh. The Open Door Policy provides an overview of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.
Key words for doing business in Bangladesh
With access to international sea and air routes the location of the country is ideal for global trade.
Advantageous trade agreements
Most Bangladeshi products enjoy complete duty and quota-free access in EU, Japan, USA, Australia, and most of the developed countries.
Attractive business & investment climate
Bangladesh has a rapidly growing domestic market and, with nearly 164 million people, there is obvious potential for a further increase in domestic consumption.
Youth and ambition
Bangladesh has a vast and skilled workforce. There is an abundant supply of disciplined, easily trainable and low-cost workers suitable for any labor-intensive industry.
Although Bengali is the official language, English is widely accepted as a second language.
Bangladesh is endowed with an abundant supply of natural gas, water and fertile land.
The Bangladesh Export Processing Zones
Where the Bangladesh Board of Investment is charged with attracting investment into Bangladesh and to ensuring that investors receive the necessary assistance, the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) is the official organ of the government to promote, attract and facilitate foreign investment within different Export Processing Zones (EPZ). An EPZ is defined as a territorial or economic enclave in which goods may be imported and manufactured and reshipped with a reduction in duties and/or minimal intervention by custom officials.
The primary objective of an EPZ is to provide special areas where potential investors can find a congenial investment climate, free from cumbersome procedures.
An EPZ provides:
- Plots/factory BLDG in custom bonded area
- Infrastructural facilities
- Administrative facilities
- Fiscal & non-fiscal incentives
Bangladesh operates eight countrywide EPZ’s, in Chittagong, Dhaka, Mongla, Ishwardi, Comilla, Uttara, Adamjee and Karnaphuli.
Policy aims to boost inward foreign investment with a number of tax holidays (5-10 years depending on location). Eight export processing zones EPZ’s are already operated, and 100% foreign-owned ventures are allowed to operate and are given equal treatment to local enterprises.
To ensure uninterrupted power supply the Government of Bangladesh is setting up new power stations, including nuclear power plants, with foreign investments.
The Foreign Private Investment Act provides legal protection from nationalization and expropriation, and guarantees the repatriation of capital and dividends. As of yet indicators show that openness to trade in Bangladesh is much higher (to illustrate: trade openness is equal to India) than openness to investment.
There has been some improvement in the institutional framework for facilitating public and private investments such as the Special Economic Zones Act, Public-Private Partnership guidelines and the Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has cracked down on protection of overall property rights. Although Bangladesh is still ranked 125th out of 130 countries, it is no longer world’s most corrupt country. A Truth and Accountability Commission was installed in 2007 to disclose corrupt deals.
With regard to intellectual property rights Bangladesh has adopted protection in line with WTO standards (TRIPS agreement, trade related aspects of intellectual property rights). As of yet the government lacks the resources to enforce existing legislation.
Significant customs modernization is under way to facilitate speedy customs clearance through automation and to improve transparency in the customs clearance process. Import clearance and export procedures have been further simplified by reducing the number of signatures needed for clearance of consignments and the frequency of inspection of goods.