UAE investors to inject $10bn in Bangladesh economic zones

Ships lie at anchor in the River Karnafuli, near Chittagong. Several UAE-based investors have expressed interest in developing economic zones and hi-tech parks in Bangladesh. (Reuters)
Updated 17 September 2019

UAE investors to inject $10bn in Bangladesh economic zones

  • Conference aimed at strengthening the flow of trade and investment between the two countries
  • Bangladesh is on a growth overdrive and is expected to touch more than 8 percent in the next few years, making it the fastest growing economy in the world

DHAKA: UAE-based investors have lined up several new projects including five free economic zones worth $10 billion in Bangladesh, the plans for which were discussed at the Bangladesh Economic Forum in Dubai on Sunday.

Salman F. Rahman, advisor to Bangladesh’s prime minister on private industry and investment, led a 20-member government delegation comprising officials from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority for the meeting in the UAE.

This was the first time representatives from all three agencies participated in the Bangladesh Economic Forum — a private sector initiative undertaken by UAE-based, non-resident Bangladeshi professionals and entrepreneurs.

More than 300 government officials, business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs participated in the day-long international investment conference, which is aimed at strengthening the flow of trade and investment between the UAE and Bangladesh.

Several UAE-based investors expressed interest in developing economic zones and hi-tech parks in Bangladesh.

“I am pleased to see strong and genuine interest among UAE-based investors — both UAE national and foreign business groups — in investing in Bangladesh,” Rahman said.

He added that Dhaka had seen heavy investments from China, Japan and the US, urging investors from Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to “take advantage of the lower cost of investment, operations and higher return on investment in Bangladesh.”

“Investment from the GCC and the Arab world will help us achieve a higher growth rate and we are more than ready to welcome them,” Rahman said.

Kamrul Hasan, commerce secretary of Bangladesh’s mission in the UAE, told Arab News that it was a very successful discussion. “Besides, the event created a very positive branding for Bangladesh” he added.

Experts welcomed the proposal, with Dr. Shamsul Alam, member of the country’s planning commission, saying that at this moment, it was the “most desirable thing for the country.”

“To attain the target of our sustainable development goals, we need to have at least $9 billion in investment every year until 2030,” Alam told Arab News.

“At present, Bangladesh has the most congenial policy regime — foreign investors are enjoying the opportunity of a 100 percent profit repatriation policy,” he added.

However, he said that to attract investment, the country was working on building 100 economic processing zones and 28 hi-tech parks by 2030, with plans in place to get 15 ready in the next five years.

Bangladesh’s economy grew at 7.9 percent in 2018. The country is on a growth overdrive and is expected to touch more than 8 percent in the next few years, making it the fastest growing economy in the world.

In order to sustain 8 percent plus gross domestic product growth, Bangladesh needs massive foreign and domestic investment which will create employment and ensure sustainable development.

The World Bank estimates Dhaka must spend as much as $10 billion a year by 2020 to bring its power grids, roads and water supplies up to the standard in order to serve its growing population.


UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

Updated 23 September 2020

UK relatives of Daesh ‘Beatles’ victims relieved as trial nears

  • The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling
  • The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq

LONDON: Relatives of two Britons killed by a Daesh cell on Wednesday welcomed a breakthrough that advances the US trial of two Londoners accused of their brutal deaths.
The families of Alan Henning and David Haines said a ruling by the London High Court permitting the UK government to share evidence with US authorities about the suspects was a “huge result for us.”
“We have only ever wanted to see these two men being held accountable and brought to justice through a fair trial for their alleged actions,” they said in a statement released by the charity Hostage International.
The evidence regarding El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey was transferred to Washington immediately after Tuesday’s court ruling.
The pair, who have been stripped of UK citizenship, are in the custody of US forces in Iraq.
Kotey and Elsheikh’s four-member cell was dubbed “the Beatles” by their captives due to their English accents. They are accused of torturing and killing victims, including by beheading, and Daesh released videos of the deaths for propaganda purposes.
A two-year legal impasse concerning the suspects was broken last month when Attorney General Bill Barr said they would be spared execution if convicted after trial in the United States.
The United States wants to try them for the murder of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig, during 2014-2015.
Taxi driver Henning and former aircraft engineer Haines, who had both gone to Syria to do aid work, were beheaded in 2014.
Another of the cell’s alleged victims was British photojournalist John Cantlie, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and remains missing.
Cantlie’s sister Jessica Pocock told of the relatives’ intense frustration at the long legal wait.
“At times we felt absolutely desperate as to whether the legal system was ever going to be able to bring these two to justice — wherever they may be,” she told BBC radio.
“That was always terribly important to us to have a proper, fair trial. The families need nothing less than a fair trial,” she said.
The US Department of Justice welcomed the court ruling and expressed gratitude to Britain for transferring the evidence, although a trial date has yet to be set.