The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) organized a dinner discussion
on “Bilateral Trade Relations for Driving Growth” on Monday 22nd May 2023, 06.30 p.m. at the WESTIN Hotel, Dhaka.
Mr. Brendan Lynch, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), South and Central Asia (Acting) & Ms. Mahnaz Khan, Director for South Asia, (USTR) attended the discussion as the “Guests of Honor” and The President – AmCham Mr. Syed Ershad Ahmed was present as the “Session Chair” where Mr. Syed Mohammad Kamal, Vice President – AmCham moderated the discussion.
While welcoming the guest in the event, AmCham President Syed Ershad Ahmed highlighted the fact that partnerships are critical and we value the mutual cooperation between the USA and Bangladesh. USA is the single largest export market for Bangladeshi goods in the world and the bilateral Trade Volume in FY 2022 was approximately $14 Billion, a number we are working hard to increase. USA is still the largest contributor to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Bangladesh & the biggest source of remittance too. Mr. Ahmed hoped that more cooperation may attract more investment in diversified segments and contribute in Bangladesh migration to a developing nation.
Both the guests of Honor Brendan Lynch & Mahnaz Khan from USTR applauded the work AmCham and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) do in collaboration and tried to underscore the outline of the growth drivers that Bilateral Trade can play to improve the relations of the two friendly nations on the eve of its 50th Anniversary, especially during the post-pandemic geo-political situation where global supply chain is disrupted causing unrest in the economy of many countries in this region. They both mentioned that the USA has a keen interest to invest in different sectors of Bangladesh. He also talked about bilateral trade relations and other factors that could help develop and increase existing ties. Ms. Mahnaz Khan also overviewed about potential investment opportunities in Bangladesh.
AmCham former Presidents that included Forrest E Cookson, Aftab Ul Islam and Md. Nurul Islam shared their perspective on the US role in the WTO fostering the economic growth, the background of TICFA and its potentials, the opportunities of FDI from USA in various sectors apart from power and energy and role of the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) can play in fostering the bilateral economic growth.
The Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) chairman Dr. Zaidi Sattar supplemented on the role of WTO and in the evolving geo-political environment how both US-Bangladesh can act on it days ahead. Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president, Mr. Faruque Hassan shared the improvement Bangladesh has made in the last decade ensuring a safe working place and suggested to consider the preferential tariff regime similar to GSP for Bangladesh once it completes LDC graduation.
Bangladesh-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI) President Syed Almas Kabir shared his idea of upcoming changes in ICT and knowledge-based industry and invited US academic footprint in the sector. AmCham member and former BASIS president Mr. Habibullah N. Karim as well as current BASIS President Russell T Ahmed echoed the potential Bangladesh holds for ICT industry that revolves around blockchain, Artificial Intelligence so on and invited the visiting team to explore the opportunity and share the experience back in USA.
The managing director – Coca-Cola Bangladesh Ltd, Mr. Ta Duy Tung shared his suggestions about ease of doing business with regard to taxation policy and energy situation in Bangladesh and their future investment plan to expand the operation. ICC Bangladesh president, Mr. Mahbubur Rahman, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) President Mr. Md. Sameer Sattar, Mr. Sohail R. K. Hussain the Managing Director & CEO of Meghna Bank Ltd, Mr. M S Siddiqui were few to name that shared their views and listened to the responses from the visiting USTR officials going forward.
AmCham would like to continue this series of events focusing on different aspects with a view to identify the opportunities/issues and recommend action/policies to enhance economic cooperation between the U.S.A and Bangladesh. A good number of AmCham members including the Executive Committee Members, foreign dignitaries, business leaders, thinktanks and other distinguished guests attended the event.