Bangladesh has maintained impressive growth, with the economy expanding at roughly 6% per year over the last decade. This growth has accompanied large improvements in human development. Since 1992, poverty has dropped by roughly 30%; life expectancy, literacy, and per capita food intake have risen; and more than 15 million people have moved out of poverty. Much of this growth is due to the country’s strength in garments, which account for more than 80% of exports.
Nevertheless, major challenges still face the country. 9 out of 10 workers are in the informal sector and 45 million people still live in poverty. Continued growth depends on diversifying the economy away from garments, and high population density will need to be managed with better infrastructure and urban policies.
Bangladesh has established export processing zones, economic zones, and hi-tech parks that offer various business environment advantages. Private-sector developers can build and manage the zones under concession agreements. Locus Economica has helped Bangladesh develop its public-private partnership framework and strengthen the process for procuring developers and negotiating concession agreements for economic zones and hi-tech parks, as explained below.
As of June 2018, Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) had issued 7 final private or PPP economic zone developer licenses and 12 preliminary approvals for further private zones. Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Hi-Tech Parks Authority (BHTPA) BHTPA had issued licenses for 16 PPP or private tech parks (2 of which are operational), not counting 1 public park. Private investment in BEZA zones between 2016 and mid-2019 was of nearly $3bn by 66 companies, creating nearly 21,000 jobs (and projected to create 199,000 jobs by the time all projects are operating at full capacity), while a further 63 investors were operating in BHTPA tech parks.