Leaders of British-Bangladeshi chambers and associations have urged the government of Bangladesh to initiate Biman or chartered cargo flights to facilitate regular and weekly imports of frozen foods, fruits and vegetables from Bangladesh.
They said Bangladeshi grocery shops in the UK are facing grave supply challenges during coronavirus lockdowns, including the month of Ramadan.
The business leaders made the request through Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem recently, said the High Commission on Saturday.
The High Commission held a videoconference with the British-Bangladesh chambers and business associations to discuss the challenges facing British-Bangladeshi businesses in the UK, and British-Bangladeshi importers importing from Bangladesh in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns.
Leaders of British-Bangladesh Chambers and Associations, including British-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BBCCI), UK-Bangladesh Catalysts of Commerce & Industry (UKBCCI), Bangladesh Caterers Association, UK (BCA), British-Bangladesh Caterers' Association, UK Biman Approved Travel Agent Association, Bangladesh Fresh Vegetables and Fruits Importer Association, UK and Wales Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce participated in the videoconference.
Country Manager of Biman Bangladesh Airlines also took part in it.
The leaders exchanged views with the High Commissioner on overcoming some of the critical challenges, including in importing frozen foods, fruits and vegetables from Bangladesh which has a huge demand in the UK, transportation of frozen foods, fruits, vegetable, readymade garment and other export items during the Bangladesh lockdowns; and the question of sustainability of the British-Bangladeshi curry industry amid the global outbreak of deadly coronavirus.
They particularly urged the High Commissioner to request the Bangladesh government to initiate Biman or chartered cargo flights.
High Commissioner Tasneem briefed the business leaders about the latest situation of bilateral trade and business between Bangladesh and the UK and key initiatives undertaken by the Bangladesh High Commission in London to mitigate business losses both in Bangladesh and the UK during this unprecedented global pandemic.
She categorically highlighted the country's largest-ever financial incentive package unveiled by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, especially to support export-oriented industries and protect their workers' wages.
The High Commissioner called upon the British-Bangladeshi RMG exporters to take advantage of the Prime Minister's incentive package for their workers' wages for the next three months.
She said the High Commission in London is working closely in coordination with UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Department of International Trade, BGMEA and other UK trade bodies including Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to ensure payments by British retailers to Bangladesh's garments industry for manufactured goods and honour their contracts.
The High Commission is also working relentlessly to support smooth operation of goods and services and two-way trade between Bangladesh and the UK during the international flight lockdowns.
She lauded the Chambers leaders and British-Bangladeshi community as a whole for their tireless philanthropic and charity efforts to support the vulnerable groups in the Bangladeshi community during this coronavirus calamity.
The High Commissioner reaffirmed that the London High Commission remains dedicated 24/7 to the services of the nation and the Bangladeshi community in the UK during this crisis time.
She informed that the High Commission continues its 24/7 consular helpline and services, while a new 24/7 coronavirus response helpline has been introduced along with a Bangladeshi-British doctors' advisory panel to support vulnerable Bangladeshi community members in need of medical advices.
The High Commissioner assured that the recommendations of the British-Bangladeshi chambers and associations would be duly conveyed to Bangladesh relevant authorities and all efforts would be undertaken to resolve their challenges at the earliest.
It was decided that during the coronavirus pandemic the High Commission would periodically organise such virtual conferences with different business sectors.
Among the eminent British-Bangladeshi business leaders who represented their Chambers and Associations were Iqbal Ahmed OBE, Bashir Ahmed, Bajloor Rashid MBE, MA Munim, Salim Chowdhury, Lutfur Rahman Sayed, Mohammed Nasir Uddin, Kamor Uddin Chowdhury Paplu and Abdul Alim and others.