AmCham hosted its August Luncheon to bid Farwell to the outgoing US Ambassador to Bangladesh H.E. Marcia S. Bernicat.
AmCham president Md. Nurul Islam chaired the meeting and delivered welcome speech addressing the audience. The president in his opening remarks highlighted the many contributions Amb. Bernicat made to the chamber during her tenure in office in Bangladesh, especially in improving bi-lateral trade and investment relation between the two economies, helping Bangladeshi students seeking higher education in US which she mentioned during her very first appearance in AmCham Luncheon. He particularly thanked her for co-hosting the last two Annual US trade Shows and AmCham’s 20th Anniversary that took place in the chancery of US embassy, Dhaka. He also thanked her for her support in hosting Ambassador Frank G. Wisner in AmCham Luncheon in August 2017 as well as taking AmCham Executive Committee members onboard with her during the “Indo-Asia Connectivity for Shared Prosperity” conference that took place in India during Dec 2016. Mr. Islam mentioned that Ambassador Bernicat will certainly be remembered in the history of AmCham as a true friend for time to come.
Mr. Aftab ul Islam who was the Chamber’s President during the first year of Amb. Bernicat’s term, also paid his tributes to the Ambassador at the meeting. He appreciated her for promoting the culture of Bangladesh throughout the whole tenure. Mr. Islam thanked her for the supporting role she played resolving many important issues of Bangladesh, specially matters related to RMG sector and wished her all the best in her future endeavors.
Amb. Bernicat, in her remarks, highly appreciated the role of AmCham in improving the economic cooperation between Bangladesh and the USA. She said, it is easy to do good business here and Bangladesh needs to do a better job at selling its story, adding that Bangladesh is different now from what its story was in 1971. “Too few people know about your consistent 6 percent or more growth rate over the years and vibrant sectors…Who has to tell the story? The government has to tell it, the industries have to sell it and the civil society has to sell it,” the US envoy added. Ambassador Bernicat also said, reforms were needed in trade regulations for ease of doing business to encourage businesses to flock here, to attract more US investment. She said, “Bangladesh’s ease of doing business is way too low. There is good money to be made here, there are a lot of great partners but 42 steps to open a business,” said Bernicat. Once American businessmen and women get here they would be impressed, but ease of doing business is the way to get them to stay here, she added. Regarding the safety progress in the garment sector, Bernicat said, “I would say the progress that has been made is enormous. But the safety has to be a part of the culture so that people know about it all the time”. Ambassador Bernicat suggested strong corporate value that not only involves good products and a good price but also improving the environmental value with corporate social responsibility and conducting business in a fair and transparent manner. Those practices and values about doing business are the right ways, she added. Bangladesh offered one of the world’s fastest growing economies, sustained impressive economic performance over the decades and the opportunity to enhance infrastructures and the burgeoning middle class, all key elements, said Bernicat. She said both countries did a number of regional trade activities together and have highlighted the growing opportunities available for South Asia to trade with itself. A lot more will be done under an Indo Pacific strategy, as US Foreign Secretary Michael R Pompeo stated recently, “Good part of the strategy is about keeping markets open, keeping sea lines open, keeping opportunities available for countries to attract investment to grow their business sectors. In Indo Pacific strategy, Bangladesh is considered as one of the strongest partners in South Asia,” she said.
A crest and a farewell gift were presented to her at the meeting as mementos. The widely attended event also served as an opportunity for AmCham members to personally say ‘Goodbye’ to her during the time allotted for that towards the end of the program. AmCham Treasurer Mr. Md. Shafiqul Azim delivered vote of thanks at the program. Executive Committee members of AmCham were also present and extended their felicitation to Ambassador Bernicat in the occasion. A good number of AmCham members, foreign dignitaries and other distinguished guests attended the event.