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Bangladesh holds hidden gems for investors, says HSBC

Fifty years after its independence, Bangladesh has grown into one of Asia’s fastest growing economy with a very exciting long-term demographic story. With this backdrop, “the Bangladesh stock market deserves more attention as it holds opportunities for investors looking for diversification and ‘hidden gems’”, Devendra Joshi, ASEAN and Frontier Markets Equity Strategist, HSBC Global Research, told clients and stakeholders at a virtual session, Bangladesh Market Insights 2021: Consumption Propelling Growth, on August 4th.

“Bangladesh is on a similar growth trajectory to Vietnam. In fact, its stock market is where this ASEAN nation was five years ago, and it is well placed to start closing the gap,” Joshi explained. Bangladesh’s economic growth exceeded 7% for four years in a row pre-pandemic, while its population grows at a fast pace with around 165m Bangladeshis. “We think the country is on the cusp of an industrial revolution as incomes rise and technology plays an ever-increasing role in the economy. Urbanisation, smaller households and more women at work are powerful consumption drivers that support high levels of growth,” Joshi added.

Bangladesh also has a sound macro position and a robust external balance sheet –with low external debt and high FX reserve coverage. Its foreign direct investments (FDI) remains low but is expected to improve as it moves up the value-added ladder fast. While Bangladesh is one of the cheapest places to manufacture goods in Asia, it will need to diversify away from garments. In terms of ease of doing business, Bangladesh still lags Vietnam but is making efforts to improve.

Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus, Principal Secretary to the Honourable Prime Minister attended the session as the Chief Guest and Md Jashim Uddin, President, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) attended as the Special Guest. Sandeep Uppal, Global Co-Head of International Subsidiary Banking, Commercial Banking, HSBC, Md. Mahbub ur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Bangladesh, Kevin Green, Country Head of Wholesale Banking, HSBC Bangladesh also spoke in attendance alongside key members of the business community, regulatory bodies and representatives from state-owned enterprises. A Q&A session was also moderated by Md. Mahbub ur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Bangladesh with questions answered by Devendra and Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus said, “The economy of Bangladesh is seeing continuous growth because of the entrepreneurship spirit of its people, strategic location, and support from the financial sector. We are energized to do better and showcase our success stories through increased public-private partnerships and reach Bangladesh’s competitiveness globally. I would like to thank HSBC for always being a trusted and optimistic partner for Government of Bangladesh, which will further strengthen the Bengal Delta to glow and shine much sooner than the Governments set target of achieving Developed Country status by 2041.”

Md. Mahbub ur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Bangladesh said, “In its past 50 years, Bangladesh’s trajectory of economic growth has been a testament of the people’s insatiable desire and effort to do better. Continued digitalisation and up-gradation of technology, consistent rise in per capita income leading to incremental consumptions of goods and services and demographic dividend have been opening up a world of opportunities for Bangladesh. Historically, our private sector has always been resilient during challenging times and HSBC will continue to play its part through unparalleled international network and connectivity.”

“We think the country is on the cusp of an industrial revolution as incomes rise and technology plays an ever-increasing role in the economy. Urbanisation, smaller households and more women at work are powerful consumption drivers that support high levels of growth,”

Devendra Joshi | ASEAN and Frontier Markets Equity Strategist, HSBC Global Research