Duty-free access to UK to continue until Brexit: envoy
Bangladesh will continue to get duty privilege to the UK under the European Union's Everything But Arms scheme until Brexit formally happens next year in June, said Alison Blake, British high commissioner in Dhaka, yesterday.
"Until we leave the EU, we remain a member of the EU with all the rights and obligations that our membership entails, including our commitments to the existing trade framework," Blake said.
The process of leaving the EU will be invoked no later than the end of March 2017, she said at the monthly luncheon meeting of Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Westin Dhaka hotel.
But Britain will remain open for business for the world.
"There are challenges as well as opportunities but because of the decisions the government has taken our economy is fundamentally strong and there are many reasons to think our economic future outside the EU will be bright."
Until Brexit materialises, Britain will continue to take a leading role in the EU-Bangladesh Business Climate Dialogue, especially on taxation issues.
She praised the Bangladesh government for the measures it has taken in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on July 1 to ensure the safety of the international community, residents and visitors, diplomats, buyers and cricketers too.
"Things have improved, and confidence is coming back, but it is far too early for any of us to relax our guard," the British diplomat also said.
The UK is the second largest investor in Bangladesh, contributing 13 percent of total foreign direct investment to Bangladesh last year.
This year, some $322 million flew in, with the highest contributions to the banking, textiles and food sectors. More than 200 UK companies in Bangladesh provide employment, transfer knowledge, run significant corporate social responsibility initiatives and are some of the highest contributors to tax revenue, she said. "We are the third largest market for Bangladeshi exports -- we take about 10 percent of the total figure -- overwhelmingly RMG products," Blake added.
Bangladesh's exports to the UK have been growing steadily, said FICCI President Rupali Chowdhury.
Last fiscal year, exports to the UK raked in a total of $4.17 billion, up 17 percent year-on-year.