Bangladesh may ease controls on foreign investors

Finance Asia recently carried some comments from an official in Bangladesh saying that they were looking at reducing restrictions on foreign investors bringing money into the country. The whole story will probably disappear behind the Finance Asia paywall soon, but here’s the key points:

Bangladesh Bank, the country’s monetary authority, is reviewing its Foreign Exchange Act with an eye on liberalising how the country deals with foreign capital, says Hassan Zaman, chief economist.

“I can’t share details of what’s under review,” Zaman says, “but it is comprehensive. We are asking ourselves, ‘Where do we want to go, how integrated do we want to be with the world’s financial markets, over the next 10 to 20 years?’”

Speaking yesterday at AsianInvestor and FinanceAsia’s inaugural Bangladesh Investment Summit in Singapore, Zaman says the central bank and the securities regulator are looking at impediments to foreign investment.

Don’t expect a full-blown opening, however. Zaman notes that Bangladesh Bank remains committed to managing the country’s balance of payments, which will mean using capital controls to deal with domestic inflation and other macroeconomic issues.

Of course, this is not a revolutionary development for international investors: Bangladesh is very much a frontier market of very niche interest. For those that are determined enough, I’ve been told it is accessible (I have no direct experience) – essentially it seems you need a special onshore non-resident’s bank account to receive cash, which local brokers are able to help set up. But as with India, Russia and China this year, it’s always good to see incremental improvements in foreigners’ access to emerging markets.


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