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Bangladesh-United Kingdom Strategic and Bilateral Relation

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UK pledges to provide support in climate mitigation, waste management

 FE ONLINE REPORT | Published:  August 26, 2021 12:13:33 | Updated:  August 26, 2021 22:03:06


The UK has pledged to assist Bangladesh in the areas of climate mitigation and overall waste management, including single use waste and medical waste.  

The UK will also extend its support in environmental conservation, renewable energy use, biodiversity conservation and technical and research, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson has said.

Referring to Bangladesh as a very close ally of Britain, Dickson mentioned that the ongoing cooperation between Britain and Bangladesh would continue at an increasing pace.

The British High Commissioner said this during a meeting with Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Md. Shahab Uddin in the meeting room of the ministry on Wednesday, according to a press release of the ministry.

Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Md. Mostafa Kamal, Additional Secretary (Administration) Iqbal Abdullah Harun, Additional Secretary (Development) Ahmed Shamim Al Razi, Additional Secretary (Climate Change) Md. Mizanul Hoque Chowdhury, Joint Secretary (Climate Change) Sanjay Kumar Bhowmick and John Warburton, Head of Climate and Environment Program at the British High Commission were present in the meeting among others.

Minister Md. Shahab Uddin told the British High Commissioner that Bangladesh is playing a significant role in the international arena on climate change as the president of the Climate Vulnerability Forum and Vulnerable-20.

He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan for the overall prosperity of Bangladesh. 

The environment minister said Bangladesh would finalise the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and submit it to the UNFCCC before August 31.  The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) is also being finalised in consultation with the concerned stakeholders.

He wished success to the UN Climate Change Conference going to be held in Glasgow, UK, in November.

The Minister also sought cooperation of Britain in all the areas related to climate change.

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TBS Report

29 August, 2021, 09:10 pm

Last modified: 29 August, 2021, 09:19 pm

Corruption makes doing business difficult in Bangladesh: UK envoy

British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson however lauded Bangladesh’s many success stories such as Pathao and Food Panda, despite the difficulties


Bangladesh ranked poorly in the latest iterations of Ease of Doing Business and Corruption Perception indices, indicating that the country possesses a difficult environment for foreign private investors, said British High Commissioner in Dhaka Robert Chatterton Dickson.

But despite the difficulties, Bangladesh has many success stories such as Pathao and Food Panda – which began through private investments in the IT sector, he added while speaking at a webinar organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) on Sunday.

Addressing the event titled "Bangladesh-UK Trade and Investment Cooperation: Service Sector Perspective" as chief guest, Dickson continued, "Foreign investors have fantastic opportunities in this country, if it improves in the ease of doing business and corruption indices.

"The British High Commission will facilitate British venture capitalists looking at financial opportunities for the startups in Bangladesh."

In the most recent iteration of World Bank's Ease of Doing Business index, Bangladesh ranked near the bottom – 168th out of 190 nations. Meanwhile, the country ranked 146th among 180 nations in the latest Corruption Perception Index, published by the Transparency International.

Moderating the programme, DCCI President Rizwan Rahman said, "Bangladesh has had a bilateral business relationship with the UK since our independence. At the end of FY21, bilateral trade value between the two countries stood at $4.2 billion.

"During that period, Bangladesh's export value was $3.75 billion, which was 8.36% higher than the previous year. Foreign direct investment inflow from the UK was $2.75 billion in FY20, while the service sector received 6.5% of total investment from that country."

He added that Bangladesh's service sector, such as IT-based businesses, have a huge potential as the government launched several facility and infrastructure projects across the country. "UK-based investors may invest in this sector to grab the opportunity."

President of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Syed Almas Kabir said, "The IT sector is enjoying 100% tax exemption and receiving 10% incentive for exporting goods.

"The sector also gets one stop service from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA). Bangladesh also has 29 Hi-Tech Parks, which are export-oriented. Foreign investors have no obstacles for investing here in the form of joint ventures with other local entities or by forming a company.

He continued, "In the last five years, exports of IT related products and services have jumped by 86% to $1.3 billion. At present, 400 companies are exporting their products to 80 countries, where the major destinations are the markets in the USA, Japan and Europe.

"Thirteen percent of the IT products from Bangladesh are exported to the UK."

Managing Director of the Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority Bikarna Kumar Ghosh said, "Within 2025, consumer electronics market growth will be 6.35% in the country. The government is working on this target.

"Conglomerates such as Samsung, Nokia, Oppo, and Walton have already invested in this sector."

Adding that the government made IT Parks across the country to facilitate private investment, Ghosh said, "The government has already invested Tk1,000 crore and 160 companies invested Tk560 crore. The proposal for an additional Tk460 crore investment is currently in the pipeline."

At the event, Genex Infosys Managing Director Adnan Imam, SBK Tech Venture's founder Sonia Bashir Kabir and others detailed their success stories.

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Momen, UK Minister Raab to meet to chart post-Brexit strategic partnership vision

Published:  August 31, 2021 18:37:14

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab are scheduled to hold their official meeting in London on Thursday to chart a post-Brexit and post-Covid new strategic partnership vision.

"The official bilateral talks will be a historic occasion as the Bangladesh and UK Foreign Ministers will be meeting in London for the first time during the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two friendly countries," said Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland Saida Muna Tasneem.

Britain was one of the first countries in Europe to recognise Bangladesh's independence on Feb 4, 1972.

The visit of Dr Momen is also highly significant as it would provide an opportunity to set the tone for Bangladesh CVF Presidency's high-level participation in the upcoming COP26 scheduled in Glasgow in early November under UK's Presidency, said High Commissioner Tasneem.

Return of the Rohingya back to Myanmar and regional security issues will also feature in the discussions, said the High Commissioner.

The Foreign Minister is due to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral issues with the UK Foreign Secretary from post-Brexit trade relations, Bangladesh-UK new economic partnership vision to post-covid vaccine cooperation and lifting Bangladesh out of UK's travel red list.

Bangladeshi-British diaspora and work opportunities of skilled professionals from Bangladesh would also feature high in the talks, said the envoy.

On his arrival on Wednesday, the Foreign Minister will be received by High Commissioner Tasneem at the Heathrow Airport, reports UNB.

Prior to the bilateral talks with the UK Foreign Minister, Dr Momen will also have a bilateral meeting with COP26 President Alok Sharma at 9 Downing Street to discuss the COP26 agenda for Bangladesh with a particular focus on loss and damage and the proposed CVF-COP26 Leaders' Summit under Bangladesh Presidency.

Apart from the official meetings, the Foreign Minister will deliver a climate talk on "Forging a CVF-COP26 Climate Solidarity" at the UK's leading think tank Chatham House, organised jointly by Bangladesh High Commission and Chatham House.

The event will also be attended by Maldives Speaker and former President and CVF Thematic Ambassador for Ambition Mohamed Nasheed along with a number of CVF Ambassadors and High Commissioners and climate experts.

The Minister will deliver a keynote speech on "Bangladesh-UK at 50:Towards a post-Brexit, post-Covid Economic Vision" at a high-profile business dialogue with British and British-Bangladesh chambers, including three mainstream chambers- British Chambers of Commerce, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.

Bangladesh High Commission in collaboration with British-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BBCCI) is organising the event.

Dedicating to the philosophy of peace and non-violence of Bangladesh's Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and marking his birth centenary, the Foreign Minister is expected to inaugurate a peace grove in central London.

Dr Momen will visit the Bangladesh High Commission when he will officially inaugurate the Bangabandhu Library, the Centennial Portrait of Bangabandhu, the Bangabandhu Consular Week and the extended premises of Bangladesh High Commission at 27 Queens' Gate.

He will also participate in an interactive dialogue with Bangladeshi young talented students from UK's eminent universities.

During his UK visit, Dr Momen is expected to meet some British MPs and dignitaries at official and civic receptions and join community events, including the NRB Foundation and CAP Foundation programmes, to exchange views with expatriate Bangladeshis from the UK and Europe.

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British foreign secretary apologizes to FM Momen for postponing meeting

 Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan

 Published at 06:36 pm September 3rd, 2021

FM Abul Momen meets COP-26 president-designate and delivers speech at a climate talk

British Foreign Secretary Dominc Raab has apologized to his Bangladeshi counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen for postponing the scheduled bilateral talks in London on Thursday.

“UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has travelled in response to the global Afghanistan crisis and he informed Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen to apologise. Hope to reset the meeting soon," a spokesperson of the High Commission told Dhaka Tribune on Friday.

A senior official of the Bangladesh High Commission in London also confirmed the postponement to this correspondent.

About the rescheduled meeting, officials of the Bangladesh High Commission in London and the British High Commission in Dhaka said that the talks would be held at a mutually convenient time.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Dr Momen and COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma held an official bilateral talk at 9 Downing Street and discussed hosting a CVF-COP26 joint event on the sidelines of the COP26 in Glasgow in early November.

Highlighting Bangladesh's important role in the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), Momen sought to have the CVF-COP26 joint event to strengthen climate cooperation between the President of COP-26 and the most climate-vulnerable countries, including Bangladesh, the current chair of CVF.

Furthermore, he proposed that the UK and Bangladesh expand their bilateral climate relations especially in transferring green technology, promoting green investment, and supporting climate mitigation projects such as building embankments to protect people from sea-level rise and river erosion.

At the meeting, Dr Momen briefed Sharma on the COP26 agenda for Bangladesh focusing particularly on loss and damage, and the proposed CVF-COP26 Leaders’ Summit under Bangladesh Presidency.

Sharma assured Bangladesh of the UK's continued support for its climate initiatives covering different areas, including collaboration to promote green financing and investment, and technology transfer to build a clean and green future.

Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem accompanied Dr Momen to the talk along with other senior members of the minister’s delegation. 

Later on the Day, the foreign minister delivered speech at a climate talk titled "Forging a CVF-COP26 Climate Solidarity" at the UK's foremost think tank Chatham House, calling for global solidarity and political commitment to combat climate challenges.

Mentioning Bangladesh’s various initiatives including the “Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan Decade 2030” and Bangladesh’s self-financed $450-million Climate Change Trust Fund, the minister said that Dhaka had been pursuing a low carbon development path although Bangladesh is a minimal emitter.

During the meeting, the minister noted that the Rohingyas had posed a grave threat to the environment in south-eastern Bangladesh and called for the UK’s support in repatriating them to their own country, Myanmar.

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চতুর্থ কৌশলগত সংলাপ

অভ্যন্তরীণ বিষয়ে যুক্তরাজ্যের হস্তক্ষেপ চায় না বাংলাদেশ

মনজুরুল ইসলাম

সেপ্টেম্বর ০৭, ২০২১

৯ সেপ্টেম্বর বাংলাদেশ ও যুক্তরাজ্যের মধ্যে অনুষ্ঠিত হতে যাচ্ছে চতুর্থ কৌশলগত সংলাপ। এ বৈঠকে দ্বিপক্ষীয় সম্পর্কের বিভিন্ন বিষয় নিয়ে সার্বিক আলোচনা হবে। এ আলোচনায় বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরীণ বিষয়ে মন্তব্য করা থেকে লন্ডনকে বিরত রাখার বিষয়টি সর্বোচ্চ গুরুত্ব পাবে। পাশাপাশি দুই দেশের মধ্যে ব্রেক্সিট-পরবর্তী বাণিজ্যিক সম্পর্ক ও উন্নয়ন অংশীদারিত্ব ইস্যুতেও জোর দেবে বাংলাদেশ।

পররাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রণালয়ের একটি সূত্র জানিয়েছে, লন্ডনে অনুষ্ঠেয় এ সংলাপে অংশ নেবেন পররাষ্ট্র সচিব মাসুদ বিন মোমেন ও যুক্তরাজ্যের পররাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রণালয়ের পারমানেন্ট আন্ডার সেক্রেটারি ফিলিপ রবার্ট বার্টোন।

উল্লেখ্য, দ্বিপক্ষীয় সম্পর্কের সার্বিক বিষয় নিয়ে দুই বছর পরপর বাংলাদেশ-যুক্তরাজ্যের মধ্যে কৌশলগত সংলাপ হয়। এর আগে ২০১৯ সালের এপ্রিলে ঢাকায় তৃতীয় কৌশলগত সংলাপ অনুষ্ঠিত হয়েছিল।

পররাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রণালয় সূত্র জানায়, বৈঠকে রাজনৈতিক সম্পর্ক, অর্থনৈতিক ও উন্নয়ন অংশীদারিত্ব, নিরাপত্তা ও প্রতিরক্ষা সহযোগিতার পাশাপাশি বর্তমান বৈশ্বিক বিভিন্ন বিষয় নিয়ে আলোচনা হবে। বর্তমানে যুক্তরাজ্য ভ্রমণের ক্ষেত্রে বাংলাদেশ লাল তালিকায় রয়েছে। এ তালিকা থেকে বাংলাদেশের নাম বাদ দেয়ার বিষয়টিও এবারের বৈঠকে তুলে ধরা হবে। সেই সঙ্গে ব্রেক্সিট-পরবর্তী বাণিজ্যিক সম্পর্ক ও উন্নয়ন অংশীদারত্বের বিষয়টিতে জোর দেবে বাংলাদেশ।

এছাড়া সূত্রটি জানায়, বৈঠকে বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরীণ বিষয় নিয়ে লন্ডনকে মন্তব্য করা থেকে বিরত থাকতে বলা হবে। এ প্রসঙ্গে পররাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রণালয়ের এক ঊর্ধ্বতন কর্মকর্তা বলেন, যুক্তরাজ্যের পররাষ্ট্র দপ্তর থেকে ২০২০ সালের মানবাধিকার প্রতিবেদন প্রকাশ করা হয়। সেখানে বাংলাদেশ সম্পর্কে পুরো বিশ্বকে বিভ্রান্তিকর তথ্য দেয়া হয়েছে বলে অভিযোগ ওঠে। এর পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে বাংলাদেশে নিযুক্ত যুক্তরাজ্যের হাইকমিশনারকে তলব করে মন্ত্রণালয়। সে সময় বাংলাদেশ সরকার বা ক্ষমতাসীন দল আওয়ামী লীগ সম্পর্কে বিভ্রান্তিকর ও অপ্রীতিকর বিবৃতি দেয়া থেকে ব্রিটিশ সরকারকে বিরত থাকতে পরামর্শ দেয়া হয়। সে বিষয়টিও কৌশলগত এ বৈঠকে তুলবে বাংলাদেশ। ভবিষ্যতে বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরীণ বিষয় নিয়ে বিভ্রান্তিকর ও অপ্রীতিকর মন্তব্য করা থেকে লন্ডনকে বিরত থাকতে বলা হবে।

ওই কর্মকর্তা আরো জানান, যুক্তরাজ্যের প্রতিবেদনটিতে বিএনপি চেয়ারপারসন খালেদা জিয়ার বর্তমান পরিস্থিতিকে গৃহবন্দি বলে উল্লেখ করা হয়। এ বক্তব্যকে বিভ্রান্তিকর বলে মনে করে বাংলাদেশ সরকার। প্রতিবেদন প্রকাশ করার আগে এ ধরনের কোনো বিষয়ে কোনো বিভ্রান্তি থাকলে তা সরকারের সংশ্লিষ্ট কর্তৃপক্ষের সঙ্গে আলোচনা করার জন্য ব্রিটিশদের পরামর্শ দেয়া হয়। পাশাপাশি ওই প্রতিবেদনে রোহিঙ্গা জনগোষ্ঠী নিয়ে নিজেদের উদ্বেগের কথা তুলে ধরে ব্রিটিশ পররাষ্ট্র দপ্তর। বাংলাদেশ সরকার বলছে, সেখানে এ প্রসঙ্গে এমন কিছু শব্দ ব্যবহার করা হয়েছে, যা আন্তর্জাতিকভাবে স্বীকৃত নয়। এমনকি বাংলাদেশের নিজস্ব আইন অনুযায়ীও এসব শব্দ স্বীকৃত নয়।

এর আগে গত আগস্টে করোনাভাইরাস সংক্রমণ মোকাবেলায় বাংলাদেশসহ বিশ্বের উচ্চঝুঁকিপূর্ণ ৫৯টি দেশকে আন্তর্জাতিক ভ্রমণের লাল তালিকাভুক্ত করে যুক্তরাজ্য। একই সঙ্গে যুক্তরাজ্যের নাগরিকদেরও এসব দেশ ভ্রমণে বিধিনিষেধ আরোপ করা হয়। যদিও এক পর্যায়ে সেই তালিকা থেকে উত্তরণ ঘটে ভারত, বাহরাইন, কাতার ও সংযুক্ত আরব আমিরাতের। লাল থেকে বাদামি তালিকায় ঠাঁই পায় তারা।

বাংলাদেশকে লাল তালিকায় অন্তর্ভুক্তির যুক্তি হিসেবে সে সময় বলা হয়েছিল, পাঁচ সপ্তাহ ধরে দৈনিক করোনা সংক্রমণের হার প্রায় ২৫-৩৩ শতাংশ ও কভিড-১৯ রোগে দৈনিক মৃত্যুর হার ২০০ জনের ওপরে রয়েছে। এসবই ভ্রমণকারী ও পর্যটকদের জন্য কভিড পজিটিভ হওয়ার উচ্চসম্ভাবনা নির্দেশ করে, যে কারণে দেশটি লাল তালিকায় স্থান পেয়েছে। এখন সে পরিস্থিতির উন্নতি হলেও বাংলাদেশকে তালিকা থেকে বাদ দেয়নি যুক্তরাজ্য।

এর আগে বাংলাদেশ-যুক্তরাজ্য কৌশলগত সংলাপ প্রসঙ্গে গত ৩১ আগস্ট লন্ডনে বাংলাদেশ হাইকমিশন জানায়, বৈঠকে বাংলাদেশকে যুক্তরাজ্যের ট্রাভেল রেড অ্যালার্ট তালিকা থেকে বের করে আনার বিষয়ে জোর দেয়া হবে। এছাড়া আলোচনা হবে কভিড-পরবর্তী সময়ে বাংলাদেশ-যুক্তরাজ্য নতুন অর্থনৈতিক অংশীদারিত্ব, বাংলাদেশী-ব্রিটিশ নাগরিক ও বাংলাদেশ থেকে দক্ষ জনশক্তির কর্মসংস্থানসহ নানা বিষয়ে।

হাইকমিশন আরো জানিয়েছে, যুক্তরাজ্যের সভাপতিত্বে নভেম্বরে অনুষ্ঠিত হবে বিশ্ব জলবায়ু সম্মেলন। সেখানে ক্লাইমেট ভালনারেবল ফোরামের সভাপতি হিসেবে থাকবে বাংলাদেশ। ওই সম্মেলনের ঠিক আগ মুহূর্তে এ কৌশলগত সংলাপ বাংলাদেশের বিশেষ তাত্পর্যপূর্ণ।

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Developing Bangladesh’s capital markets to provide an engine for investment, jobs and growth


Robert Chatterton Dickson

23 September, 2021, 02:20 pm

Last modified: 23 September, 2021, 04:25 pm

Since independence 50 years ago Bangladesh has been a remarkable economic success, building on prudent Government policy choices and the dynamism of the private sector, especially over the last two decades.

The country has shown it can leverage its comparative advantage in labour-intensive production to exploit global market opportunities and expand the export base.

For two decades before the pandemic, annual GDP growth averaged over 6%, the extreme poverty rate fell by half, child mortality dropped by 60%, life expectancy increased by seven years, and per capita income nearly doubled and is now higher than some of its neighbours.

As a result of these achievements, Bangladesh is on course to graduate from the Least Developed Country (LDC) group of countries in 2026. This is a major milestone, but the longer journey to prosperity continues and substantial social and economic development needs remain. Developing new channels of investment will spur business growth and job creation. The Government of Bangladesh's Perspective Plan 2021-41 sets the ambitious objective of becoming an Upper-Middle-Income country by 2031, and a High-Income Country by 2041. Investment-led private sector growth is vital for these targets to be met.

Making this happen will require continued investment, and greater access to private capital. But Bangladesh's capital markets are under-developed to meet the scale of investment required. The markets must seize the opportunity to modernise to meet the long-term financing needs of the country by providing long-term financing through bonds and other financial instruments.

Private investment can help start-ups to scale up and established businesses to expand, generating exports and creating quality jobs, which are much needed by Bangladesh's young population. Deepening and broadening of Bangladesh's capital markets is critical to this. Lack of capital market development will not only hinder low-cost and long-term financing and stymie investment, it will also hinder skills development, technology transfer and economic diversification, all of which are essential to sustain Bangladesh's impressive economic growth trajectory.

For local capital markets to flourish, there is a need to attract both local investors, such as pension funds who need long-term assets and can provide patient capital, and international investors who bring low-cost financing and global know-how. Bangladesh currently has significant untapped absorptive capacity to mobilise foreign savings, given its low level of foreign debt. Low international interest rates make this even more attractive. This could be a win-win scenario, with Bangladesh meeting its financing needs and international investors benefitting from the growth, diversification and returns Bangladesh can offer to their portfolios.

To underline the potential of the capital market and the significance of capital market reforms, we in the British High Commission hosted a webinar titled "Bangladesh Capital Markets: A New Frontier" on 15 September 2021. Honourable Minister of Planning, M. A. Mannan, MP, and UK Prime Minister's Trade Envoy for Bangladesh, Rushanara Ali MP, were among the speakers, and we also heard from the Chairman of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission, senior Government officials and leaders of public and private sector organisations in Bangladesh. The webinar explored the financing needs of the private sector, the Government of Bangladesh's ambitions and plans to support broadening and deepening of the country's capital market, and the UK's commitment to work with policymakers, regulators, and private sector to achieve reforms.

The UK can bring together a range of expertise to assist Bangladesh. A spectrum of UK capabilities is available, including: the CDC, the UK's development finance institution; GuarantCo, which is funded by the UK, IFC and other donors and provides innovative local currency credit solutions to banks and bond investors; UK Export Finance (UKEF), which provides finance and insurance for UK exporters; financial education providers; and, above all, the world-leading private sector resources and expertise of the City of London.

The City of London operates at the heart of the global capital markets and can be instrumental in bridging Bangladesh's investment gap, estimated at around $20 billion a year for the next twenty years. London is a leading market for local currency bond listings from emerging and frontier markets. The City of London can also share knowledge and expertise on market regulation, legal frameworks, and prudent oversight. 

The successful issue of the inaugural Bangladesh Taka "Bangla" Bond on the London Stock Exchange for PRAN Group in November 2019 was an important milestone and a good indication of what can be achieved. With the path now established, I hope more issuance will follow. A sovereign bond would provide an important benchmark and support future corporate bond listings. Governments and businesses from around the world have chosen to list their bonds on the London Stock Exchange, recognising it as a preeminent gateway to global capital markets and investors.

However, the availability of financing is only one side of the equation. Bangladeshi and international firms need to invest at scale. Research shows that Bangladesh has a difficult business environment. The UK is the second largest cumulative investor in Bangladesh. UK firms, both operating in the country and wanting to come in, flag investment climate and business environment challenges. The UK's development assistance over the past ten years has helped in investment climate reforms. We hope to see that support extended to reform and modernisation of the capital markets.

As the Honourable Planning Minister and others made clear, the Government of Bangladesh recognises the need to develop a more sophisticated capital market and attract private sector investment to build on its track record of impressive growth and provide greater resilience to the economy. The UK welcomes this ambition and stands ready to provide support as part of a new and modernised UK-Bangladesh economic relationship.

 The UK-Bangladesh relationship has been strong since the birth of the nation 50 years ago. This deep historic relationship now includes trade, investment, defence, security, and shared political objectives in meeting global challenges like climate change. We will continue working together to strengthen this partnership in new ways as Bangladesh works towards making its development ambitions a reality.

Robert Chatterton Dickson is the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh

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TBS Report

27 October, 2021, 11:15 pm

Last modified: 28 October, 2021, 11:49 am

UK ready to increase trade, investments in Bangladesh: Envoy


British High Commissioner to Bangladesh H. E. Robert Chatterton Dickson attended "DCAB Talk" on October 27, 2021 at Jatiya Press Club. Photo: DCAB


  • Bangladesh to get duty-, quota-free access to UK market for 3 years after LDC graduation
  • Election should be Bangladesh-led process
  • Bangladesh's leadership important to ensuring pressure on big emitters in COP-26


British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson on Wednesday said that the UK would work with new and existing investors to ensure they could add benefit to, and benefit from, the success of Bangladesh's economy.

The UK is "strongly ready" to increase diplomatic trade, investment and security in the Indo-Pacific region over the next few decades, he said while speaking at the "DCAB Talk", organised by the Diplomatic Correspondent Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) at the National Press Club.

"As a high commission in Bangladesh, we are engaging deeply on issues including climate, biodiversity, and maritime security and many other areas, including working with British businesses to build trade and investment relationships as Bangladesh graduates from a Least Developed to Middle Income Country."

He said: "Graduation is a milestone, not a finishing line. We will continue to work with Bangladesh to achieve a smooth and successful graduation.

"We have also decided to continue the duty-, quota-free access to the UK market for three years after graduation, to 2029."

The envoy also spoke about the upcoming COP-26 to be held in Glasgow, Rohingya issues, defense and Covid-19 cooperation between both the countries. 

He mentioned the UK's standing as the third-largest individual destination for Bangladeshi exports and being the second-largest cumulative investor in the country.

The envoy mentioned that British companies such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Unilever play an important part in the economy of Bangladesh, not least as some of the nation's largest taxpayers.

Referring to the first bilateral UK-Bangladesh Trade and Investment Dialogue last February, he said the UK hoped the market could be opened up more than in the past, to high-value services, including in finance, education and health services.

The high commissioner also said he was delighted that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would visit London and Manchester next month to be a key speaker in a roadshow to promote Bangladesh as an economic opportunity.

Regarding the upcoming 26th UN climate change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which the UK will host in Glasgow on October 31 to November 12, he said Bangladesh had a particular role to play at COP26 through Hasina's role as Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, which brings together 48 climate-vulnerable countries.

"Bangladesh's international leadership will be important in ensuring sufficient pressure is applied to the big emitters by the climate-vulnerable to reach the ambitious global deal that will be needed."

The high commissioner also said there was an opportunity in education, adding that many British universities were keen to contribute to higher education in Bangladesh.

Election should be Bangladesh-led process

Dickson hoped that the next general election would be held in a transparent and competitive atmosphere with participation of all political parties in Bangladesh.  

He said that the election should be Bangladesh-driven and Bangladesh-led, noting that it was not for foreigners to say how elections should be held elsewhere.

"It is a matter for the Bangladeshi people to decide.

"The election should reflect the Bangladesh constitution led by Bangladeshis and fulfil the constitutional ambitions," he added.

He said that the UK would continue to support plural and democratic practice in Bangladesh.

Rohingya and other issues

Regarding the Rohingya issue, he said that they were concerned about recent violence in the camps.

"The UK was exploring ways that refugees could be given more productive ways to spend their time, with the opportunity for them to volunteer, provide camp services and basic livelihoods, and for children to be educated".

The UK reiterated the shared objective, which was for the Rohingyas to return to Rakhine as soon as possible in a voluntary, dignified and safe way.

Asked to comment on allegations of propaganda and conspiracy against Bangladesh which originated in the UK, the British high commissioner said the court had jurisdiction over the return of criminals. However, in the UK, if someone spreads hatred, the government takes action.

Answering a question on the recent attack on British MP Tulip Siddiq, he said, "You are informed that recently another British MP was killed. So, now the security of MPs, especially from the minority communities, is being taken extremely seriously by our government." 

Among others, DCAB President Pantho Rahman and General Secretary AKM Moinuddin spoke on the occasion.

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