The governor proposed more “knowledge and problem sharing” between the central banks of Bangladesh and other developing Commonwealth countries for the development of the financial sector.
He said that with the expansion of the digital economy of the future, banks will need to develop skilled human resources in cybersecurity. In this regard, international platforms like the Commonwealth can play an important role.
This year’s Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum conference in Dhaka concluded with a promise to strengthen cross-border investments to make respective economies prosper.
There were nine sessions on investment, banking, technology, Cameroon’s economy, pharmaceuticals and public health, SMEs, green finance, tourism and international supply chain during the final day of the conference at the Intercontinental Dhaka on Thursday.
Minister for Planning MA Mannan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and Principal Secretary, Ministry of Commerce Tapan Kanti Ghosh attended various sessions on the concluding day.
Unlocking business opportunities in Africa
During the session on investment potential in Cameroon, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said that Bangladesh had adopted a policy called “Look Africa” during the tenure of the incumbent government, whereby embassies of the Bangladesh have been opened in different African countries.
There are many similarities between Bangladesh and Cameroon, he noted, adding that Bangladesh’s exports to Cameroon are very low while imports currently stand at around $160 million.
The government now wants to unlock business prospects within African countries, considering Cameroon as a strategic hub for this business, he added.
Also at the event, Minister MA Mannan invited investments from Commonwealth countries to reap the economic benefits of infrastructure development in Bangladesh.
A focus on green finance
In another session titled “Green Finance and Sustainable Economic Growth”, State Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said: “We are formulating many policies to reduce carbon emissions, especially with regard to international trade and import and export policies.
“We have introduced a technology upgrade fund to help industries upgrade technologies that will reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint. Additionally, if someone uses renewable energy, the tax can be lower and he can get a loan at a lower interest rate.”
Banking as a service
Abrar A Anwar, CEO of Standard Chartered Mauritius, said the concept of ‘banking as a service’ has now gained momentum for global financial inclusion where startups and other technology platforms provide services by verifying the identity of the customer.
Need for a separate ministry for SMEs
In a session titled “Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): Formalization and Internationalization,” former President of Next International, Peter Obi, highlighted the importance of creating a separate ministry dedicated to supporting SME entrepreneurs, as we see it in China and Indonesia.
He suggested that these ministries could provide intensive support to these activists.
Furthermore, he proposed that Commonwealth countries should collaborate to improve this sector by sharing technology and knowledge among themselves.
Garima Srivastava, senior trade specialist at the Institute of Export and International Trade, highlighted the need to provide logistical support to SME entrepreneurs. She highlighted the role of government in taking initiative and recommended educating entrepreneurs on the steps to take to export their products.
Need for more investment in digital culture
During the session “Technology and Change: Commonwealth Innovation”, Sami Ahmed, Managing Director of Startup Bangladesh, advocated for the distribution of affordable digital devices and digital literacy to the population, saying this would accelerate the progress in the field of ICT.
He also highlighted the relatively low presence of startups in the private sector in Bangladesh and suggested that an increase in local investment would attract foreign investment.
He further highlighted the importance of digitalizing all services in the country to facilitate online business registration and attract foreign investment.
Mike Torres, director of Elisha Telecom, stressed the need for a stable and long-term investment policy to stimulate foreign direct investment (FDI).
He warned against frequent policy changes, which can deter traders from investing due to uncertainty.
Investment proposals received for various sectors
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen addressed reporters after the two-day conference. He highlighted the significant potential for increased trade and investment with Commonwealth countries.
He mentioned various investment proposals in sectors such as agriculture, contract farming, textiles and agribusiness, stressing that more details would be provided later.
Momen also mentioned that many foreign companies had expressed interest in collaborating with Bangladeshi businessmen.
In response to a question, Lord Marland, Chairman of CWEIC, hailed Bangladesh as one of the world’s great emerging markets and cited it as an example for other countries to follow.
He said: “You are a country (Bangladesh) which produces clothes. Many countries here need clothes. You are a country self-sufficient in food. Export of food is going to be very big from Bangalore. Point of view, but also because of your workforce and its dynamic, hard-working workforce, people will want to build factories here and our factories here.
“And we have people from Singapore and others who are actively looking to set up the factory here to work. So it’s a mix of things and it’s a networking event and it’s proven to be very satisfying for all that.”
Bangladesh hosted the conference for the first time in collaboration with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday inaugurated the two-day Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum.
Bida, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ZI Foundation are partners of the conference. More than 300 international representatives, including 13 ministers from Commonwealth countries, attended the two-day conference.
Togolese Minister for Investment Promotion, Rose Kayi Mivedor, Deputy Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Kitiona Tausi, Ugandan Minister, Ugandan Minister Francis Mibisa, Executive Chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Lokman Hossain Miah, the executive chairman of the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), Shaikh Yusuf Harun. , and City Bank Managing Director Mashrur Arefin also gave their impressions in different sessions.
The Commonwealth of Nations, commonly known as the Commonwealth, is an international organization made up of 56 member states, most of which are former territories of the British Empire.