The present trade and investment atmosphere between Bangladesh and the United States is yet to reach full potential, and both nations will benefit from a systemic assessment of the available opportunities.
Assessment is crucial for identifying where the opportunities lie, what issues are holding back the potential, how the competitor countries are making headway, and what strategic options Bangladesh has to maximise the potential with US stakeholders.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) President Syed Ershad Ahmed made the remarks on Sunday, adding that AmCham will carry out systematic diagnostics to identify opportunities for strengthening Bangladesh's trade and investment ties with the USA.
Participating as session chair at a virtual event titled "US-Bangladesh Economic Relation: Migration to a Developing Nation," Ahmed said, "The bilateral trade between Bangladesh and the USA was only $1 billion, but it exceeded $9 billion in just three decades.
"We are working tirelessly to increase the trade volume further between the two nations. As of today, the USA is the Single largest market for Bangladeshi products in the world, the largest contributor of FDI and the 2nd biggest source of remittance for Bangladeshis since July 2020."
Addressing the event, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller said, "Bangladesh can be a challenging place to do business. US investors share international concerns over labour rights, workplace safety, corruption, and a lack of transparency in some government transactions.
"I find the Government of Bangladesh increasingly responsive to these concerns. But we need to see continued improvement to create a welcoming, sustainable, and fair business environment with a level playing field for all."
There were congratulations all around when Bangladesh moved up in the World Bank's annual Ease of Doing Business report, but we all know there is a great opportunity to do better, he added.
Miller then added, "Let us use the commemoration of this extraordinary country's 50th year as a launching pad to a more prosperous future and even stronger economic partnership for both our great nations.
"As pilots say about clear open skies, the future of the US-Bangladesh economic partnership has a ceiling and visibility unlimited."
Managing Director at Coca-Cola Bangladesh Tapas Kumar Mondal said, "Tax policy has to be amended here, which will promote further foreign investment in Bangladesh, including the USA."
Meanwhile, Abdul Monem Economic Zone's Director A Gafur said, "We lag far behind in bilateral trade with the USA than many other developing countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.
"Very poor infrastructure, corruption, dependence on RMG and unfriendly business environment are the barriers against more US trade and investment in Bangladesh."
Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority's (BEPZA) Executive Chairman Md Nazrul Islam said he expects bigger investments from the USA as a new economic zone is coming.
JoAnne Wagner, deputy chief of mission (DCM) at the United States Embassy in Bangladesh also participated in the programme, which was moderated by Syed Mohammad Kamal, vice president of AmCham and Country Manager at Mastercard.
The event was powered by Air Alliance Ltd – a UPS authorised service contractor in Bangladesh.