Global Business GuideBangladesh

From Global Connections

This is one of a series of Global Business Guides designed for businesses wishing to expand into another country/territory. This Global Business Guide was produced in January 2016. The materials contained in this document provide a snapshot at that time and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.


Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bangladesh amounted to USD1.7 billion during the first nine months in 2015; this represented an increase of 47 per cent on the corresponding period in 2014.

Bangladesh ranked 174th in the World Bank's 2016 Doing Business rankings, down two places from 172nd in the year prior. Despite a small fall in the country's position, the rankings acknowledged that Bangladesh made paying taxes less costly for companies by reducing the corporate income tax rate. This reform applies to both Chittagong and Dhaka.

Key facts about starting a business in Bangladesh:

  • It takes nine procedures and approximately 19.5 days to start a new business in Bangladesh; this process is detailed in the Doing Business in chapter
  • A business visa can be obtained for a maximum period of six months; employment regulations are discussed in detail in the Labour chapter
  • It takes approximately 105 days and costs BDT30,000 to obtain project clearance and a building permit
  • While only mandatory for listed companies and financial institutions, most companies follow the Bangladesh Financial Reporting Standards (BFRS) and Bangladesh Accounting Standards (BAS); further details can be found in the Audit chapter
  • Companies wishing to list on the Dhaka Stock Exchange must have been in commercial operation for at least the last five years prior to application; this is discussed further in the Finance chapter

Bangladesh's attractiveness as an investment location can be attributed to a number of factors, including its business friendly legislation, growing domestic market and young low-cost workforce. Nevertheless, in order to make an informed decision, it is critical to understand the nuances of any local regime. The manner in which people conduct business in Bangladesh may differ from the home countries of investors. Furthermore, variations on these distinctions may exist depending on the region and industry in which a company operates.

Bangladesh's official language is Bangla, also known as Bengali. Urdu and English are also spoken and English is widely used in business correspondence. Hierarchy is central to Bangladeshi society and this is reflected in business culture. Business attire is conservative.

Punctuality is expected when doing business in Bangladesh. A handshake is the typical business greeting. Business cards will usually be exchanged at the first meeting and should be given with the right hand.

Those looking to establish a business in Bangladesh may look across Asia for alternative options. However, Bangladesh can be differentiated on the following factors:

  • Bangladesh has had an annual growth rate of at least 5.3 per cent over the last 16 years
  • Strategically located between the rapidly expanding markets in South and Southeast Asia
  • Bangladesh has a liberal FDI policy, allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership with no restrictions on the remittance of royalties or the repatriation of profits; trade policy discussed further in the Trade chapter
  • The government offers a number of tax incentives, including varying rates of exemption for newly established industrial undertakings and physical infrastructure facilities; the tax regime is detailed in the Tax chapter
  • The current government's 20-year plan to invest in the country's infrastructure provides significant opportunities for private investment; further details can be found in the Infrastructure chapter

While Bangladesh offers significant investment opportunities, there are still a number of challenges for foreign businesses. Bangladesh ranks low on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Rankings (174th) and on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index (145th). This can be largely attributed to a lack of transparency and high levels of bureaucracy across state bodies.

This guide has been developed to provide businesses with an overview of Bangladesh, its Legal regime, start-up and market entry considerations, tax and customs requirements and a general summary of the factors that may affect the decision to do business in Bangladesh. However, the information contained in this document is generic in nature and you should not act or rely on it without obtaining specific professional advice.

Please note that the Global Business Guides may only be available in English.

Useful Links

1 Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms
2 National Board of Revenue
3 Bangladesh Customs
4 Department of Immigration and Passports
5 Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks
6 Information Commission
7 Board of Investment
8 Ministry of Labour and Employment



1 FDI Statistics
2 World Bank Rankings
3 Business Visa
4 Bangladesh Annual Growth Rate


Download Global Business Guide - Bangladesh (1.4MB, PDF)


This document is issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited in Bangladesh (the Bank). This guide is a joint project with Grant Thornton. It is not intended as an offer or solicitation for business to anyone in any jurisdiction. It is not intended for distribution to anyone located in or resident in jurisdictions which restrict the distribution of this document. It shall not be copied, reproduced, transmitted or further distributed by any recipient. The information contained in this document is of a general nature only. It is not meant to be comprehensive and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this document without obtaining specific professional advice. Whilst every care has been taken in preparing this document, the Bank and Grant Thornton makes no guarantee, representation or warranty (express or implied) as to its accuracy or completeness, and under no circumstances will the Bank or Grant Thornton be liable for any loss caused by reliance on any opinion or statement made in this document. Except as specifically indicated, the expressions of opinion are those of the Bank and are subject to change without notice. The materials contained in this document were assembled in January 2016 and were based on the law enforceable and information available at that time.

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