Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called for a global consensus in changing business and investment relations as she placed an eight-point proposal for sustainable investment in the World Leaders Investment Summit here. The proposal included a larger public and private investment in agriculture to control the risks relating to price instability in food and agriculture commodities, and removal of impediments to infrastructure investment in developing countries. While addressing the summit at Qatar National Conference Centre, the Prime Minister also proposed for controlling the fluctuating demand of non-equity modes of international production and arrangement of development needs of the developing countries for their own benefit, stabilization of capital flow and controlling of the transitional corporations (TNCs) and state-owned enterprises to avoid protectionist tendencies.
She suggested a balanced political view of the developed countries and appropriate mechanism to help global flow of FDI in developing countries, an improved international coordination to control certain forms of subsidies under WTO framework and lastly maintaining balance between labour intensive investment and productivity enhancement investment. Sheikh Hasina said a new challenge has appeared in our globalised world calling for reforms in the governance of global trade, and in the economic transactions while progress in the Doha Round has been slowed making the investment around the world uncertain.
"Enhancing productivity and maximizing profits is also bringing changes in the investment landscape," she said, adding "Businesses activities are constantly adjusting themselves to create opportunities amidst new challenges as the states are finding it difficult to balance people's interest and the new trends in businesses." She said there is an urgent need for low carbon development following the impacts of climate change, and newer services, calling for changes in industrial relations.
Thanking the UNCTAD Secretary General for arranging the summit, she said it was important amidst uncertainties caused by the recent worldwide economic crisis which are impacting particularly the economies of developing countries struggling for alleviating poverty and underdevelopment. The Prime Minister also urged the world business community to reap the benefit of most liberal and attractive investment policies along with financial incentives Bangladesh is offering for foreign investors.
"Your investment will help us spurring sustainable development, create employment and attain development goals as well as ensure secured profitable returns of investment," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is experiencing development deficit due to the inadequate infrastructure and energy. "So, we are also encouraging public-private partnership (PPP) in the construction of highways, multipurpose bridges, power stations, airports and seaports," she added.
Disclosing her government's initiative for establishing nine special economic zones in the country, she said: "The investors can reap the benefit of duty-and quota-free market access to major economies that we enjoy."
Focusing on country's economy against the backdrop of global economic recession, she said Bangladesh could maintain sound macroeconomic fundamentals with suitable policy measures.
The Prime Minister said the country clocked 6.7 percent economic growth last year and it is expected to be around 7 percent this year. "Our aim is to raise growth rate to double digits by 2017 and sustain it till 2021 to become a middle income country," she said.
She said Bangladesh, located in a unique position between South and South East Asia and close to China, is making all efforts to develop strong regional connectivity with roads, railways, waterways, and become the economic hub of the region.
"Moreover, our local market of 160 million and the regional market of 3 billion people are also growing up steadily in terms of purchasing power and consumption," Sheikh Hasina said, adding Bangladesh's business sector now boasts of innovative entrepreneurs, efficient managers and skilled labour at competitive wages.
She, however, said identifying right industries and right policies are critical for Bangladesh as export industries always might not have the greatest impact on employment or value addition.
"We need to nurture the selected industries and at the same time focus on emerging industries," she said, noting that "UNCTAD may help us on this difficult task."
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Cabinet Affairs of Qatar Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud inaugurated the summit, while UNCTAD Secretary- General Supachai Panitchpakdi, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki addressed and former Finish president Tarja Kaarina Halonen addressed, among others.
Political leaders and a panel of business experts comprising the CEOs of many global business bodies answered the common queries about way out of recovering the global economic crisis and help the poor countries to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
They said ODA is very crucial as response through FDI is not enough to catalyze resource mobilization for future economy and laid importance on materializing the commitment of the G-20 to help the developing countries to recover the economy.
The flow of FDI increased in the last two years but still there is a huge gap between the pre-and post-recession scenario while Euro zone predicted another meltdown this year, they said.
Sheikh Hasina underscored the need for on resource mobilization for development of the rural area, give people's welfare first priority controlling the profit maximization of the conglomerates.