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FT online

Published:
2019-03-13 11:23:02 BdST

'Bangladesh now out of Sino-Indian shadow'


Lauding Bangladesh's tremendous economic progress, the US ambassador in Dhaka said on Tuesday it has come out of the shadow of both China and India.

The South Asian nation is playing a bigger role in the region and on the global stage, Mr Earl Robert Miller said.

The envoy also highlighted Bangladesh's higher investment opportunity.

"One thing I can tell you that in the next three years, the American CEOs, who used to visit Beijing and Delhi previously, will also visit Bangladesh," he said.

Mr Miller was addressing a press briefing convened in the capital ahead of the 26th US Trade Show to be kicked off here tomorrow (Thursday).

The US encourages Chinese investment in Bangladesh and other Indo-Pacific countries as long as level-playing fields are there for US investments.

Asked as to whether the US' Indo-Pacific strategy clashes with China's Belt and Road investment programme, Mr Miller said the strategy excludes no nation.

The US rather welcomes China's participation as an Indo-Pacific country, he went on.

"We have areas of differences but we also have areas of mutual cooperation," Mr Miller pointed out.

There is so much potential here for investment by any number of countries, he observed.

The envoy said the two-way trade between Bangladesh and the United States rose to 8.2 billion US dollar in 2018 which was only 4.0 billion dollar in 2008.

The US exports to Bangladesh was $2.1 billion, marking 43 per cent growth in a single year, he mentioned.

But Mr Miller made it clear that economic expansion is interlinked with respect for democracy and human rights.

The US companies always look at these issues before investing in any country, he said.

America always encourages Bangladesh to continue to create more democratic space and attract more investment.

The reintroduction of GSP (generalised system of preference) facilities depends on meeting some criteria agreed upon by both the two countries, Mr Miller cited.

Very good progress was made in factory safety, but many more needs to be done on labour rights issues, he said.

Mr Miller dropped a hint that the GSP would not be reintroduced until the issues are addressed properly.

American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AmCham) president Nurul Islam, former AmCham president M Aftabul Islam and US Embassy economic and commercial officer Jim Town also spoke at the press briefing.

According to Mr Islam, 46 exhibitors, including top US companies, are taking part in the three-day show at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel.

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