‘Exciting time for increasing already-strong US-Bangladesh trade and investment ties’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 26, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:20 AM, February 26, 2020

‘Exciting time for increasing already-strong US-Bangladesh trade and investment ties’

Says top American diplomat

The 27th edition of the three-day US Trade Show will kick off in the capital tomorrow with hopes of further deepening trade and investment ties between the two countries.

"The show is an important symbol of the strong and continuous US commitment to this market, and to Bangladesh," said said JoAnne Wagner, chargé d'affaires of the US embassy in Dhaka, at the press briefing held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon in the capital yesterday.

The event is an opportunity to showcase the high-quality products and services the US companies have and recognise the contribution of American companies on Bangladesh's economy. In Bangladesh, some 23 American companies have invested with 100 per cent equity while 95 others have formed joint ventures.

The show -- jointly organised by the US embassy in Dhaka and the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) -- will fuel Bangladesh's economic growth.

America is the single largest export destination for Bangladesh and the US is the largest foreign investor for the south Asian country. Bangladesh exported goods worth $6.7 million to the US in 2019 and received a total of $3.54 billion of foreign direct investment from so far.

At a time when garment exports are falling, shipments to the US actually increased by almost 10 per cent last year, she said, adding that the US accounted for about 17 per cent of Bangladesh's total exports. 

"We believe there is room for more."

The 2020 US Trade Show, which will take place at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon, will exhibit more than 120 US brands, represented by 48 exhibitors from US and local representatives, said Syed Ershad Ahmed, president of AmCham.

The participating US firms include Metlife, Burger King, Best Western International, MasterCard, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Cisco, Visa, US Food Mart, Yum! Restaurants International.

American companies like Metlife Alico and other big investors are helping Bangladesh to develop the economy, Wagner said.

"US firms bring some of the best, most innovative technologies to Bangladesh," she said, while citing a few examples.

Excelerate Energy used state-of-the-art technology to build Bangladesh's first liquefied natural gas terminal in 2018. The terminal provides clean energy, makes power supplies more reliable and promotes industrial development throughout the country.

Leading American companies like DSC Dredge and Ellicott Dredges have helped make Bangladeshi rivers and waterways usable again, while John Deere is doing excellent work to stimulate increased mechanisation of the agriculture sector in Bangladesh, thereby enhancing overall farm productivity, she said.

"And Chevron has grown alongside Bangladesh for the past quarter century.  It is the largest single producer of natural gas in Bangladesh -- powering about 40 per cent of the country."

Besides, 95 per cent of Chevron's employees are Bangladeshi -- not workers brought in from elsewhere, but local workers who, by working for American companies, can provide for their families. 

"Those are just a few examples of how American companies help build the economy -- and the relationship between the US and Bangladesh."

The trade show was first organised in 1992. Since the beginning of the show, Bangladesh has experienced steady economic growth and progress, leading to an expansion of US-Bangladesh bilateral trade from $57 million to $9 billion in 2019.

"The United States believes in free market principles, and that the innovation and drive of the private sector, is the best ways to foster long-lasting economic growth and development.  This trade show is an opportunity to see for yourself how the vibrant US business community is working together with the equally dynamic people of Bangladesh, to the benefit of both of our countries," Wagner added.

The annual trade show is one of the major activities that the AmCham Bangladesh undertakes with a view to stimulating greater understanding about each other's business potential and opportunities.

Four seminars on different issues will also be organised on the sidelines of the exhibition.

After the trade show, attractive prizes will be given under a raffle draw among the few lucky winners chosen from the visitors.

Syed Mohommad Kamal, vice president of AmCham, and Showkat Ali Sarkar, member of the chamber, also spoke at the press conference.

The fair will remain open for visitors from 10am to 8pm. The entry fee for the show is Tk 30. Students in uniform or with identity cards will enjoy free access. 

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