AmCham held its monthly Luncheon at the Westin Dhaka .
AmCham Bangladesh is back with signature event monthly Luncheons in person, after a break due to the devastating COVID-19 Pandemic. Our September 2022 Luncheon was organized with the Ambassador of the United States of America to Bangladesh, H.E. Peter D. Haas, that took place in the Westin Hotel Dhaka on Wednesday, 28th September at 12.30pm. The Guest of Honor, Ambassador Haas spoke on “U.S. – Bangladesh Bilateral Relations: Business and Trade as Keys to Expansion” while Mr. Syed Ershad Ahmed, The President – AmCham, presided the program.
AmCham President in his welcome remarks mentioned that while we are celebrating 50th anniversary of Bangladesh, we have made tremendous Economic development during this period where private sector played the vital role beyond any question. American companies obviously contributed to this development by bringing in the latest technology, transferring knowledge, introducing few best global practices and developing human resource in the country. The current trade and investment scenario between Bangladesh and the US, however, remains far below potential. Unleashing the full potential of the opportunities will benefit both from a systematic assessment of where the opportunities lie, what holds back the full potential, how other comparator countries are making headway, and identification of strategic options for the US stakeholders to maximize potential.
Mr. Ahmed also said as of today, Bangladesh ranked 100 out of 102 countries in a logistics quality and compliance index. “If we can improve ports management and customs clearance efficiency, bilateral trade between BD and US definitely would further increase by about 20 per cent,” he said. “Majority of our infrastructures are underutilized with poor maintenance that immediately require increase in capacity building with competent and skilled human resources,” he added. He also said the 100 “special economic zones” and several hi-tech parks which were being constructed would comprise more than 600,000 freelancing IT professionals and help attract FDI in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the right destination for IT investments for the US and other countries, he said. “In order to achieve the vision of Bangladesh becoming a ‘developed nation’ by 2041 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we have to attract more global partners and thereby diversify the country’s existing portfolio,” he said.
Ambassador Haas placed five goals on the US-Bangladesh relations. These are: peaceful and stable Bangladesh, democracy, good governance and human rights, social and environmental tolerance, cooperation in repatriation of Rohingya refugees, and expansion of US investment in Bangladesh. He also mentioned in his remarks that with rising bilateral business ties, many US companies are expressing interest at investing in Bangladesh. Last fiscal year, Bangladesh exported goods worth $10.41 billion to the US, which includes garments worth $9.01 billion, while importing goods amounting to more than $3 billion. Peter Haas said Bangladesh is going to be added to the list of developing countries and the US investors are keen to invest here, that is why a full-time commercial attaché is going to be posted in its embassy in Dhaka by this year.
He suggested diversifying exports from Bangladesh as pharmaceuticals and goods related to information technology have a lot of potential apart from garments. He also suggested creating an enabling business climate and improving labour standards so that the US and other international companies come here with the FDI. The Russia-Ukraine war will unfortunately have long-term negative impacts on global trade, he added. Talking on the US country strategy on Bangladesh, the US envoy said, “The US wants to see a more peaceful and stable Bangladesh, better able to provide for its own security, counter threats to US interests, and serve as a growing security contributor in the Indo-Pacific and globally.”
A good number of AmCham members including the Executive Committee Members, former presidents, foreign dignitaries, government bodies’ representatives , business leaders, civil society members, media representatives and other distinguished guests attended the event. Mr. Syed Mohammad Kamal, Vice President – AmCham & Country Manager, Mastercard – Bangladesh offered the vote of thanks, especially Ambassador Haas for his thoughtful remarks and responses as well as the participants for their valuable suggestions and invited all to the chambers upcoming Annual U.S. Tarde Show happening next month.