Increasing the US trade in Bangladesh will be the top priority of future bilateral relations, said newly appointed US Ambassador Earl R Miller yesterday.
“I intend to make US business one of the mission's top priorities,” he said while addressing a group of businesspeople at a regular luncheon meeting of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) at The Westin Dhaka.
Bangladesh is a significant market for America as the export of the US to the country of 170 million people has been increasing rapidly, he said.
The ambassador said US companies and businesses were doing well in Bangladesh and could do much better.
“So, I look to work with the people of Bangladesh and the government of Bangladesh to bring in more trade delegations, more trade missions and more CEOs. In the next three years, I hope to see more American companies engaging in Bangladesh and more Bangladeshi companies engaging in the US.”
The US is the single largest export destination for Bangladesh. The value of two-way trade is more than $7 billion a year and the balance of trade is heavily tilted towards Bangladesh, which exported goods worth more than $6 billion last year.
The two-way trade is projected to be higher in the future. US exports to Bangladesh rose 100 percent year-on-year in 2017, Miller said.
He said he would work to remove unnecessary or arbitrary regulations and cumbersome customs procedures. Corruption affects the economic growth of Bangladesh, he added.
Miller said Bangladesh was making great efforts in strengthening workplace safety with the help of the Accord and the Alliance, but it needs to do more, especially in the area of labour rights.
Promoting labour rights and workers' safety is not only the right things to do as it is also the foundation for freedom of association, the envoy said, adding that corporate social responsibility had a bright future in Bangladesh.
On politics, he said the US wanted the upcoming general elections of Bangladesh to be free, fair, participatory, peaceful and credible involving all political parties and avoiding any kind of violence.
“One of the messages that I continue to pronounce is the need that the upcoming election will be free, fair, credible, participatory and peaceful.”
“You must assure, you must avoid and you must condemn violence. Violence only undermines the democratic process,” he said, suggesting that the government use democratic processes during and after the election.
Nurul Islam, AmCham president, moderated the event.