US ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat on Wednesday stressed the need for removing barriers to smooth trade and investment to ensure an attractive business environment and strengthen economic relations with the US.
She mentioned a number of areas, including high tariff, unnecessary or arbitrary regulations, certain tendering processes and customs procedures, where further steps are needed.
The US ambassador was speaking as the chief guest at the Annual General Meeting of International Business Forum of Bangladesh at BRAC Center in the city.
Appreciating Bangladesh for fulfilling all the criteria for LDC graduation, the envoy said Bangladesh will get less benefit of many foreign preferences than it is enjoying now by graduating from the LDC club.
Eliminating trade and investment barriers will help accelerate Bangladesh’s economic growth, she said.
Bernicat emphasised stronger rule of law and zero tolerance against corruption to create more healthy business atmosphere in Bangladesh attracting more foreign investment.
She said US president Donald Trump’s trade policy agenda is focused on breaking down unfair trade barriers.
Bernicat said Bangladesh needs to work more to improve the trade issues that hinder the country’s economic growth as well as US businesses here.
Bernicat said Bangladesh should take this opportunity to attract more foreign investors as they are finding few places where they can be confident about their investment, she said mentioning about US farms making 23 per cent of FDI.
The US diplomat also said Bangladesh-USA economic relationship has significantly increased.
In 2004, Bangladesh exported US $2.4 billion worth of goods and services to the USA while in 2018, the amount rose to US $ 6 billion, making the USA the largest single-country market for Bangladeshi readymade garments and the single largest investor in Bangladesh. US export to Bangladesh rose to 61 per cent last year.
She urged the private sector stakeholders to advocate for creating even freer, transparent and open market in Bangladesh.
Mentioning that with the approval from the government, many Bangladeshi enterprises have expanded their operations abroad and doing good business, IBFB president Hafizur Rahman Khan said in his opening remarks.
He urged the government to make a specific policy for allowing overseas investment by Bangladeshi entrepreneurs. ‘Many Bangladeshi enterprises have acquired adequate technical knowledge and financial capacities to compete in international market,’ he added.
‘To boost the relationship more, we would like to see at least two separate US Trade Centers in Dhaka and Chittagong,’ said the IBFB president mentioning that the US Commercial Service has 15 American Business Corners in different cities in India created in partnership with different local chambers.
He also urged the US envoy to take necessary initiatives to establish US trade centers in Bangladesh and make US Business Visa easier for Bangladeshi business people.
Khondoker Bazlul Hoque, Supernumerary Professor of International Business of Dhaka University and Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury, founding president of IBFB, also spoke on the occasion.