Luncheon with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in New York City on September 22, 2010.

NEW YORK, September 22, 2010 – Asia Society and the US Chamber of Commerce hosted the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, for a luncheon during the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York. Vishakha Desai, President and CEO of Asia Society, welcomed officials from the prime minister's delegation and Bangladesh Embassy, including Ambassador Akramul Quader, along with top executives from 15 US corporations.

During the luncheon, Sheik Hasina recognized the US as "a major development and trading partner” and "the largest investor in Bangladesh." However, the Prime Minister expressed her desire to see more engagement in trade and investment activities between the US and Bangladesh. She said that US investment is "vital for Bangladesh's development and progress" and that the increase in Bangladesh's apparel exports to the US is "vital for development and the empowerment of our women."

The Prime Minister called on the U.S. Congress to pass the New Partnership for Development Act 2009 (H.R. 4101), which she said "is supportive of our business interest in the USA." She also urged the US, which remains the only developed country that does not allow duty free access to Asia's least developed countries (LDCs), to "give Bangladesh duty- and quota-free access to its market as an LDC."

The Prime Minister said that despite the recent global economic crisis, the investment climate in Bangladesh was undisturbed and there are a lot of business opportunities in the country. She encouraged the U.S. corporate investors to take advantage of investment opportunities and "come to Bangladesh with their businesses," whether in the form of investments from US corporations, or in the form of public-private partnerships between US companies and Bangladesh counterparts.

Sheikh Hasina's talk was followed by an informal exchange of ideas among corporate representatives, many of whom already have commercial interests in Bangladesh, as well others who expressed a keen interest in investing in the country.