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Bangladesh seeks policy support from US to expand bilateral trade

REPORT-3.07

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday stressed the need for having adequate policy support from the USA government to expand bilateral trade between the two countries.

“It is important that both the countries provide adequate policy support to further expand bilateral trade,” she said while addressing the virtual launching of the US-Bangladesh Business Council in a pre-recorded video message.

The prime minister mentioned that Bangladesh buys a considerable amount of industrial raw materials and consumer items like cotton, soybean and wheat from the United States.  “All these items enjoy zero tariff in Bangladesh.”

Regarding development, she said the United States has remained as a strong partner in Bangladesh’s journey towards democracy and development. “It [US] is the largest destination of our exports, the largest source of foreign direct investment, a longstanding development partner and an important source of technology and training.”

The prime minister said while Bangladesh’s dependence on foreign aid has come down substantially, the need for foreign direct investment increased to create jobs for millions of youths.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh’s sustained economic growth, rapidly expanding domestic market and growing connectivity with a vast regional market of 4 billion people makes it a promising destination for US business and investment.

“We are constantly improving our physical, legal and financial infrastructures to facilitate foreign investment,” she said.

She said the government is establishing 100 “Special Economic Zones” across Bangladesh for rapid industrialization. “We are offering one dedicated Special Economic Zone for American companies to establish manufacturing facilities.”

Talking about Digital Bangladesh, which has been an integral part of the government’s Vision 2021, she thanked her ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed for his support in planning and implementing the vision of a modern Bangladesh capable of using technology to improve transparency in governance and spur economic development.

Today, she said, Bangladesh exports more than $1 billion worth ICT products to over 60 countries with the US being the top export destination.

She mentioned that according to the USAID’s Comprehensive Private Sector Assessment 2019 for Bangladesh, the ICT industry is expected to grow nearly five-fold to reach nearly $5 billion by 2025.

“Bangladesh is now developing 28 hi-tech parks for ICT industries with local and foreign investment. We are offering one hi-tech park for ICT investment by US companies,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman laid down the foundation of a prosperous Bangladesh on the ashes of the war-ravaged country. “I have taken over his unfinished work of realizing his dream of a Golden Bangladesh free of poverty, exploitation and economic disparity. In the past one decade, we have made remarkable progress on socio-economic fronts.”

She also mentioned that the strength of Bangladesh’s economy is now globally recognized as it has shown great resilience even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Bangladesh received the final recommendation of the UN in February to graduate from LDCs. Bangladesh is now marching towards achieving the target of becoming a high-income developed and prosperous country by 2041.”

PM’s ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, former US Ambassador to Bangladesh Mercia Bericat, Vice President of Business Development of Chevron Corporation, Jay R Pryor, Nisha Biswal president of US Bangladesh Business Council and senior vice president for international strategy and global initiatives and oversees South Asia programs, and Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, US Chamber of Commerce, Myron Brilliant also spoke on the occasion.