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Key Facts:

-Bangladesh has a young demographic of 160 million.

-Bangladesh also benefits from low oil and gas prices.

An Investor’s Outlook:

Bangladesh is slowly emerging as an investor location. The country is blessed with a very large population of 160 million people, where the median age is now 26. GDP per capita is rising year after year and currently stands at USD 1,000. These demographics alone demand attention and offer significant opportunities. One thing you notice as you move through passport control in Bangladesh is that the “foreign line” is close on empty. You can stroll through in minutes. This is a sign that as of yet, the country is not really on the map for many investors, except those linked to the garment industry, and this presents opportunities.

The garment industry is driving the Bangladesh economy. Last year USD 26 billion worth of garment were exported; 82 percent of total exports. A lot of global clothing companies like H&M have set up shop in the country to benefit from the low-cost base. The industry employs around 4 million employees, stealing China’s thunder.

Traffic concerns are always talked about. Traveling from the airport to the main Dhaka-Mymensingh highway takes nearly 25 minutes for what should be a 5-minute distance. The population of Dhaka is over five million, and you can really feel that when you are embroiled in the traffic chaos. The government is actively attempting to reduce the problem by enhancing rail services, constructing flyovers, and enlarging highways. This can’t come quick enough and is a key link in attracting further investment.

Mortgage financing in Bangladesh is a burgeoning market, with housing loan penetration only at 3 percent. It is predicted, with the increasing income levels and urbanization that this will gradually increase. The effect on real estate will be positive, with large pockets of the population gaining access to the necessary capital required to purchase a property.

The Jamuna Future Park is the largest mall in South Asia. Surprisingly, the shops are poorly designed if you compare it to a similar mall in Singapore where space is utilized more efficiently. The owners are mostly local businesses as it stands, but this is sure to change to incorporate multinationals in the future.

Overall, despite some concerns, the country is ripe for investment. With the young population, a rising consumer class will present opportunities for consumer-focused companies. The country’s macro environment is healthy, with good foreign exchange reserves and a marginal fiscal deficit. The low price of oil at the moment is stimulating the economy, given that most of the country’s oil is imported. Bangladesh is expected to record the third fastest GDP growth (6.5%) in the globe in 2016, the outlet remains very positive.

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