With a large number of its global clients already boasting a presence in Bangladesh and many local companies wanting to expand internationally, professional services giant Deloitte decided to establish a direct presence in the country in December 2018.
“There are great opportunities in Bangladesh at the moment,” says Joydeep Datta Gupta, a board member at Deloitte Bangladesh. “Many of the firm’s global clients have a presence here. There is also a large number of Bangladeshi companies that aspire to become multinationals or to expand into other parts of the world.”
Bangladesh has a population of 165 million and an economy worth $286bn, according to the IMF. It is estimated locally that GDP rose by 7.4% in 2018 and is forecast to leap by an additional 7% this year, making Bangladesh one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
In December 2018, two local professional services firms, Nurul Faruk Hasan & Co (Nufhas) and Business Consulting Services (BCS), joined the Deloitte network and brought about 100 professionals with them. The firms remain independent legal entities but now form part of the network. Deloitte plans to expand the number of professionals many times over during the next few years, by recruiting accountants, technology experts, engineers and business graduates to facilitate inbound growth as well as outbound investment.
“We are seeing Bangladeshi companies in the life sciences sector expand into the US and Europe,” says Mr Gupta. “Consumer products and food and beverage businesses want to enter the Middle Eastern and Indian markets. Many family-managed firms are also in the process of becoming professionally managed. We can advise them about how to scale up a business and about how to apply new technologies, for example.”
Net FDI into Bangladesh had gradually grown to $2.58bn in fiscal 2018 (July 2017 to June 2018), from $2.45bn and $2bn in the two previous fiscal years, according to the country’s central bank. US investors made up 22.7% of the overall stock of existing FDI into the country at the end of June, followed by the UK (9.3%) and Hong Kong (7.3%). Meanwhile, outbound FDI grew to $170m in fiscal 2017, from $41m a year earlier, according to UN figures.
Room to grow
Nufhas and BCS will now be able to offer multinationals or local firms that want to grow internationally a full suite of services, including consulting, tax services, financial advisory services and risk advisory services.
“Bangladesh shows a lot of promise towards becoming a middle-income country in the future,” says Mr Gupta. “It has demonstrated an entrepreneurial culture and this has provided the momentum to sustain growth and development.
“Over the next few years, we expect that Bangladesh will be one of the world’s large economies, with a young and agile workforce and a growing middle class with increasing purchasing power. Significant female empowerment and impressive grassroots development have created the momentum for sustainable and equitable growth in the country. We are optimistic about the country because our clients are.”
Mr Gupta adds that Bangladesh’s economy is expanding rapidly in a number of business sectors, including banking, telecommunications, consumer goods, manufacturing, infrastructure, energy and resources.
“Agribusiness and food and beverages have become incredibly important,” he says. “The traditional industry of garment manufacture remains significant but Bangladesh is now expanding across the board in industrial terms.”
Mr Gupta expects the Bangladeshi economy to open up further to international investors as it grows, and would like to see the government align regulations with international standards, making it is easier for foreign firms to repatriate.