Bangladesh's EPZs are designed to attract potential investors through its congenial investment climate
The nascent economy of newly born Bangladesh started its journey in the year 1971. Since then, it has been a journey of hope and aspiration. The Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took over the stewardship of this war-torn country with a predominantly agrarian economy and showed his dream to make it the 'Sonar Bangla' through economic development and rapid industrialisation. In pursuance of his long-cherished dream, Bangladesh has now embarked on a development highway under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh is now the 'Rising Tiger' of South Asian Economy. From 2016-2018, the GDP growth of the country was more than 7 per cent, and in 2019 the GDP growth was 8.2 per cent. Even in the pandemic situation, Bangladesh was able to keep its GDP growth at 5.2 per cent.
The country’s consistent growth coupled with its stability, Covid resiliency and the demographic dividend, has helped attract more foreign direct investment into Bangladesh. The main attraction of investment in Bangladesh are the most inexpensive, productive and easily trainable labour force. Today, Bangladesh has a growing number of managers, engineers, technicians and skilled labour force available for wages that are competitive worldwide. Changing economic and political conditions in the Asian region are prompting many international investors to reassess their investment strategies and plan for re-locating their investments. Those changes are leading to more and more opportunities for Bangladesh to attract higher levels of FDI. Bangladesh has achieved this winning combination through its competitive business friendly environment and cost structure that can give investors the best returns.
Bangladesh’s EPZs, under the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) — the country’s pioneer investment promotion agency, has also grown steadily, keeping pace with the country’s development process. With its forty years of expertise and professional excellence in serving the investors of export-oriented units, BEPZA has steadily matured and is now ready to embrace new challenges with its revamped tech-savvy, environmentally and socially compliant smart zones and the infrastructures therein.
After the successful lunching of the first EPZ of the country in Chattogram in 1983, the zones have grown steadily, adding Dhaka EPZ in the portfolio in 1993 as the second EPZ. Afterwards, six new EPZs namely Mongla, Cumilla, Ishwardi, Uttara (Nilphamari), Adamjee and Karnaphuli became operational. Besides, BEPZA Economic Zone, Mirsarai is going to be operational on the eve of next year. Provisional allotment of industrial plots in the first phase has already started. Moreover, three new EPZs, namely 'Rangpur EPZ located in Gibandha', 'Patuakhali EPZ' and 'Jessore EPZ' are in the implementation stage.
BEPZA provides special and significant services to attract and make its investors comfortable. These include its rules, regulations and documentation procedures, which have been framed in an easy and simple method with minimum formalities. Investors are required to deal only with BEPZA for the sanctioning of the project and all other operational purposes. Starting from the approval of the projects, BEPZA provides allotment of land/factory building and work permits to the foreign nationals and all other matters necessary for the operation of EPZ enterprises. BEPZA also provides same-day services to the investors in maximum cases through automation under One Stop Services. Investors from 38 countries have already chosen EPZs as their investment destination to produce high quality branded products of diverse nature. The brand image vis a vis the investors’ confidence, built through years of operation, is the core strength of BEPZA.
BEPZA has a separate Labour Law titled 'Bangladesh EPZ Labour Act, 2019' to address all the issues related to the workers. Trained social counsellors have been employed to ensure optimum compliance and better working environment. For additional monitoring, a 24 x 7 helpline (16128) has been introduced for the workers of the EPZs.
The EPZs ensure fully serviced plots and Standard Factory Buildings (SFBs) for the investors on lease rental basis with the most affordable rates. The factory building and the industrial plots of the EPZs are serviced with utility connections such as, water, electricity, gas, and internet.
BEPZA offers many fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for the investors in the EPZs. These include the offer of seven years tax holiday for Uttara, Ishwardi and Mongla EPZ and five years tax holiday for Chattogram, Dhaka, Cumilla, Adamjee and Karnaphuli EPZ. Like all other EPZs of the world, the enterprises here can enjoy bonded facilities like duty free importation of raw materials, capital machinery, building materials etc. EPZ enterprises have also been incentivised by one per cent cash subsidy for the export they make subject to fulfilling certain criteria.
The EPZs of Bangladesh have pioneered export diversification by avoiding single sector dependency. Various diversified items like electronics and electrical components, furniture, bicycle, automobile parts, leather products and footwear, marble tiles, battery, camera and camera lens, mobile parts, tent, backpack, travel bag, camping furniture, golf shaft, wig and fashion hair, toys etc. are being manufactured in the enterprises of EPZs.
BEPZA welcomes foreign investments in the EPZs as it is the most competitive production base in South Asia. The time is right to choose Bangladesh as an investment destination. Being a seasoned and proven agency with 40 years of expertise dealing with the foreign investors, BEPZA is ready to embrace investment from any corner of the world with an open mind.
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