Bangladesh needs more know-how, more jobs and more capital to maintain growth, said British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson on Monday.
"Foreign investments can help upskill the workforce," said Dickson at a lecture on "The Importance of International Trade" before several hundred students of the Department of International Business at the University of Dhaka.
He said, for example, many managers in Bangladesh's private banks have developed their careers in HSBC or Standard Chartered – two British banks.
The comparative advantage has played a phenomenal role in the rise of Bangladesh's readymade garment industry. But over time, this advantage can be eroded by competitors. That is why Bangladesh needs to move up the value chain and diversify its exports to maintain growth, said the British envoy.
"What is good for Bangladesh is also good for the UK – that is the basis of free trade – if our companies can supply or partner yours to help them become more competitive."
The envoy also spoke on the importance of international trade, his country's trade relationship with Bangladesh and Brexit.
He hailed Bangladesh's impressive economic growth for over a decade and the fact that now it is the fastest-growing economy in the world.
Dickson also pointed out that the United Kingdom is the second largest single market for Bangladeshi products and that it is also the second largest source of international investment in Bangladesh.
Marks and Spencer, Unilever, HSBC and Standard Chartered are some of the British companies which doing well here.
"I would love more to join them. Our people to people links are close," said the diplomat, adding there are some 600,000 British citizens of Bangladeshi origin, including four members of parliament elected in December last year.
Also, there are doctors, lawyers, entertainers, engineers and, of course, the owners of most Britain's Indian restaurants.
"We are seeing evidence of the Bangladeshi diaspora looking for investment opportunities back home, spurred on by the country's growth."
This is a good example of the benefits of bilateral trade, he said.
On the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, the high commissioner said, "For the first time since 1973 we are a fully sovereign nation and can control our own destiny, including trade."
"Between now and the end of the year, we will work with the EU to negotiate a free trade agreement, drawing on other recent agreements, such as the one between the EU and Canada. That should be the core of our future relationship."
Dr Shobod Deba Nath, chairman of the Department of International Business, Derek Griffiths, head of trade and investment of the UK's Department for International Trade, faculty members of the Dhaka University and staff of the British High Commission attended the lecture.
Prior to his lecture, Dickson met with Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman.