On February 28, a Swedish Trade Delegation led by Swedish Director General for International Trade, Ms Eva Walder, met with members of Nordic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) to discuss Bangladesh’s Business Climate and Trade Promotion. The Delegation also consisted of Swedish Ambassador to WTO and representatives of Swedish Trade Council, China.
The dialogue commenced with a brief introduction and review by the Swedish Director General for International Trade on trade facilitation between the two countries in a more organized and regulated framework. Ms. Walder said that Bangladesh made remarkable progress economically and socially. The country holds huge potentials to become a lucrative investment destination for the Swedish investors. It has benefited significantly from tariff-free access to EU markets. However, the country faces numerous challenges in the form of poor infrastructure, political instability and corruption, which act as constraints to business growth.
The Swedish Delegation wanted to learn further about the prospects and challenges of doing business in Bangladesh from the Nordic Business Community. NCCI President presented the role of the Chamber in bridging the gap between Nordic and Bangladeshi companies and the status of current business scenario. NCCI members believe that the Government must have a holistic view on how the policies should be drafted to avoid contradictions among each other. The Government should address the regulatory challenges and ensure transparency to enable a favourable business environment. The recent volatility in the Bangladesh stock market was also discussed. The frequent change in SEC rules can deter foreign investments. Bangladesh corporate tax system too came up for discussion. NCCI members underscored that corporate tax is extremely high. They emphasized the need of tax reforms to attract investments. Bangladesh’s tax regime is one of the least attractive for foreign investors.
Although, there are several problems, the opportunities are immense in Bangladesh. Nordic businesses are committed towards Bangladesh’s development and regard their investment as long-term. Cost competitive workforce, strategic location, strong local market & growth, proven export competitiveness are the key drivers, making it an extremely attractive investment destination. NCCI Executive Director Hasan Fatheme informed the visiting delegation on the number of Swedish Investors looking forward to establishing their base in Bangladesh. He highlighted the need of a Business Matchmaking Programme to help Swedish businesses invest successfully in Bangladesh.
Ms. Walder was very pleased with the establishment of Nordic Chamber in Bangladesh. She believes it was a wise move on the part of the Nordic Businesses and Embassies to form the Chamber at a time when Bangladesh is experiencing economic and social transformation. She advised NCCI to release a business climate report on Bangladesh, which will prove beneficial for Nordic Investors.
Swedish Ambassador Anneli Lindahl Kenny and Swedish Political/Commercial Second Secretary Ludvig Bontell was also present at the meeting. NCCI was represented by Brummer & Partners, Tetra Pak, ABB, A-Tex International, GPIT and Somewhere In net Ltd. The NCCI Delegation was led by its President Arild Klokkerhaug. The luncheon meeting was organized by Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka.