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A New Vision for Bangladesh

Overview of Asia Society report on new US-Bangladesh ties

Speakers at the Asia Society Washington Center's Bangladesh event on March 23, 2011. (Asia Society Washington Center)

Speakers at the Asia Society Washington Center's Bangladesh event on March 23, 2011. (Asia Society Washington Center)

Overview of Asia Society report on new US-Bangladesh ties
Jack Garrity presented the Asia Society's report, which provided an update on critical trade, investment trends, and details on Bangladesh's strategic options for enhancing bilateral trade and investment to achieve the ambitious "Vision 2021" program, announced by Sheikh Hasina, in which Bangladesh requires significant economic growth of trade and foreign investment.

Sajeeb Wazed, Information Technology Adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said that since assuming office, this Bangladeshi government has committed to building 50 new power plants, including 15 in the public and 19 in the private sectors. "The government envisages generating over 10,000 MW electricity by the year 2014."

With regard to measures for foreign companies to bring down the cost of doing business in Bangladesh, Wazed said that although bureaucracy continues to be the main obstacle, the present process of acquiring factory land and getting bank loans is much less complicated than it used to be. Moreover, the current administration plans to build up new highways and rail lines to introduce cargo flights, as well as to construct a deep sea port and a new airport with modern cargo facilities.

Overall, to overcome the over-reliance on the garment sector in foreign trade, the speakers at the luncheon suggested that Bangladesh will need to think creatively in terms of developing more backward linkages in the that sector while simultaneously enhancing the capacity for growth in sectors like information technology, processed food, pharmaceuticals, and ship building.

A vigorous Q & A followed the presentations, in which participants posed questions on trade and investment in Bangladesh and expressed their interest in recent steps taken by Bangladesh's government. In response to a question on education sector reforms, Ambassador Qader pointed out that female education in rural Bangladesh is now not only free, but cash incentives for the parents of female students are also provided to prevent dropouts.

Related link:
Enhancing Trade and Investment between the United States and Bangladesh (Asia Society report)

Reported by Grace Gan-Yin Liu, Asia Society Washington Center