Economic diversification in Bangladesh is of paramount importance for the country's continued growth and competitiveness in the global market, according to German Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz.
"The diversification of Bangladesh's economy is crucial for the country to ensure competitiveness in the global market," he said, while addressing the opening ceremony of the Bangladesh German Consultation 2020.
With an aim to further boost bilateral trade between the two countries, the event was held at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) yesterday.
Bangladesh is on course to graduate from the least developed country status but the country's economic growth must continue in accordance with its Sustainable Development Goals.
The garment sector could benefit from the ongoing dialogue on the GSP between Bangladesh and the European Union, said Fahrenholtz, adding that there is a good chance for the country to become eligible for the GSP Plus facility after its graduation.
The GSP, or Generalised System of Preferences, is a programme designed to encourage monetary prosperity in developing countries by providing duty-free treatment to goods of designated beneficiary countries.
"The apparel industry is the backbone of Bangladesh's economic growth and Germany is the single largest export destination for the product," he said.
Fahrenholtz also assured that Germany hopes to continue its partnership with Bangladesh while furthering bilateral relations.
To exemplify Germany's dedication, Fahrenholtz pointed out that his country has provided Bangladesh with $3 billion in financial support since 1972.
Germany also fully supports Bangladesh in its call to find a solution for the Rohingya issue.
"Myanmar has to create safe enough conditions for the voluntary and dignified return of Rohingya people to their home country," said Fahrenholtz.
Poverty in Bangladesh has come down by 20 per cent while extreme poverty has entered single digits, according to the German.
"This is really a remarkable achievement. Education, health services and energy are being provided to almost everyone."
Bangladesh has become the 38th largest economy in the world and boasts the highest growth rate in Asia. However, there are some areas where improvement is needed. For example, human rights is a very essential aspect of any society from a political perspective.
To create a sustainable political system, good governance, rule of law, decreased bureaucracy and efficient use of government resources are highly important, the ambassador said.
"Over the last few years, Bangladesh's election process has been criticised and I think this circumstance was completely avoidable. I think it is very important for the country to look into these criticisms, which have been forwarded by the EU election monitoring team, and take appropriate measures in future elections."
However, the country is fully capable of holding elections that cannot be scrutinised, Fahrenholtz added.
On tackling corruption, the ambassador said: "Eradicating corruption is not only vital for future development but also for increased foreign direct investment, which is essential for economic growth."
Germany provides both technical and financial support to Bangladesh. There are about 17 projects currently being developed with German assistance, said Gauranga Chandra Mohonta, wing chief (Europe) of the ERD, while addressing the programme.
Germany will continue to provide support to a wide range of issues while emphasising on energy, both renewable and non-renewable, and poverty reduction, he said.
Ute Heinbuch, head of the South Asia division of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, spoke at the inaugural session of the consultation.