539Published on May 10, 2022
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the US to think of Bangladesh as a potential partner for enhanced trade and investment, saying she expects to double the trade volume between the two countries.
The prime minister made the statement in a meeting with the first executive business delegation of the US-Bangladesh Business Council in Dhaka on Tuesday.
“I am extremely hopeful that your visit and exchange of views with the relevant government and private bodies will further explore the expected business to business partnership and will definitely double our trade volume and benefit the private sectors of both countries,” she said.
Total two-way trade between Bangladesh and the US amounted to $9 billion in 2019. Bangladesh imported goods worth $2.3 billion from the US that year, and exported goods worth $6.7 billion to the US, according to the USTR website.
Sheikh Hasina urged the US to increase investment in Bangladesh to help both countries prosper. She touted the country’s virtues as an attractive destination for investment.
“Along with physical infrastructure, we have upgraded and eased the rules and regulations relating to investment and business. Bangladesh has the most liberal investment policy in South Asia and that foreign investment is protected by acts of parliament and bilateral treaties,” she said.
PM also spoke about the improvements to electricity coverage, the road and railway networks, water connectivity and the implementation of high-value projects.
“We are setting up 100 special economic zones for domestic and foreign investors across the country,” she said.
Some of these may be earmarked for the exclusive use of US investors, she added.
Sheikh Hasina also mentioned the advantages that Bangladesh offered with regard to labour.
“The demographic dividend and our focus on developing skilled manpower ensure that investors here get skilled human resources at competitive wages.”
“I believe US companies will take the advantage and invest more in potential sectors like power and energy, ICT, infrastructure, light engineering products, mobile phone and electronic goods, automobile, agricultural processing, pharmaceuticals, and ceramics, among others.”
The prime minister spoke of expanding the Bangladesh-US trade relationship through duty-free access, and trade privileges and suggested that discussions on a free trade agreement could start at an appropriate time.
She thanked the US for taking up her request for a visit during the launch of the US-Bangladesh Business Council in April 2021.
“I am sure that you would be able to experience the congenial atmosphere and feel confident in your potential investment in Bangladesh."