Washington DC, March 23, 2011 - The Asia Society and The US Chamber of Commerce held an off-the-record luncheon discussion with H.E. Akramul Qader, Ambassador of Bangladesh, and more than 40 government officials and corporate representatives. Jack Garrity, the Asia Society's Executive Director in Washington gave an overview of the Asia Society report on Enhancing Trade and Investment Between the United States and Bangladesh.
Tami Overby, Vice President of US Chamber of Commerce Asia, welcomed Ambassador Qader, and congratulated him on the fortieth anniversary of the independence of Bangladesh. Referring to the strong turnout of representatives from American companies, she argued their presence reflected the increased interests in opportunities for greater US engagement in Bangladesh.
Overby stressed the importance of the Bangladesh working group, which comprises representatives from leading US companies. The group has been working to promote dialogue between business and government leaders, to shape advocacy efforts on key issues in the bilateral trade and investment relations, and to create greater awareness of investment opportunities for US companies.
Laura Hudson, Manager of International Government Affairs of Chevron and Co-Chair of the US-Bangladesh Working Group, chaired the event. Hudson gave the introductory remarks and stated that the Asia Society's report is not only a story in Southeast Asia but the entire region. Given the presence of diverse group of company representatives, she said that Bangladesh is a country of immense potential and prosperity in Asia.
The next step will be the continued conversation between the US and Bangladesh in the strengthening of economic ties. Secondly, the focus will be the outreach toward a bilateral agreement, Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which the two countries can ideally negotiate within the next few months.
Ambassador Qader said in this luncheon that Bangladesh has been maintaining a GDP growth rate at over 6% during the past decade, and pointed out that it is a good sign that Bangladesh's exports to America surpassed US$ 4 billion in 2010. However, he also said that the figure could be higher if US authorities could remove tariffs. Ambassador Qader finally thanked again the Asia Society for its report.
Ambassador Qader reaffirmed his support for promoting frequent trade and investment between the two countries. Referring to the country's insufficient energy supply, the Ambassador said there were many opportunities for US companies to invest in Bangladesh's infrastructure, especially in telecommunications and power. Meanwhile, he sought US cooperation and assistance to help achieve duty-free and quota-free exports from Bangladesh to America.
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