Describing Bangladesh as a developing giant on world stage, British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson has said the UK wants a stronger political partnership with the South Asian nation.
The high commissioner was speaking at a city hotel on Thursday.
He said the two countries can work together to tackle global challenges.
“We're keen to broaden the UK-Bangladesh relationship, building on Bangladesh's economic success story,” the high commissioner said.
Dickson said Britain will be looking for the fast-growing economies of South Asia, including Bangladesh, for new partnerships after Brexit.
He pointed out that a more balanced UK-Bangladesh trade relationship will be a good thing for both sides.
The high commissioner said the UK and Bangladesh can work together at the UN and within the Common- wealth on issues such as climate change, and support open and free international trade.
Cosmos Foundation organised “Bangladesh-UK Relations: Prognosis for the Future” symposium at Six Seasons Hotel as part of the second edition of its “Ambassador Lecture Series”.
Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan delivered the welcome address at the event held with Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Principal Research Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, in the chair.
“We're bound by cricket and culture, language and literature, common visions and values that complement our political and economic relations,” Khan said, highlighting the ties Britain and Bangladesh share.
High Commissioner Dickson said UK will be working alongside the Bangladesh High Commission in London to highlight the opportunities in Bangladesh for British companies.
“Serious efforts to address some issues making business in Bangladesh difficult will be a good way to attract private capital involvement that Bangladesh economy is going to need as it matures and becomes a larger player on the world stage,” he said.
As Bangladesh is set to achieve middle-income status in the next few years, Dickson said the UK's assistance is likely to evolve from helping basic development to technical assistance with the economic and governance reform needed to continue progress.
'MADE IN MYANMAR'
Dickson said the Rohingya issue is something that Bangladesh had nothing to do with but the country has been “unbelievably generous”.
“It's a problem made in Myanmar,” he said, where Rohingyas, left out of the citizenship law, suffer a “basic injustice”.
Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas. Over 7,00,000 of them fled here since August 2017 after Myanmar military launched a brutal offensive targeting the mainly-Muslim ethnic minority.
The high commissioner said Myanmar has participated in ethnic cleansing. “It's a problem for the Rohingyas … [and] obviously for Bangladesh … [and] also for Myanmar.”
Although Bangladesh and Myanmar signed repatriation deals, there has been very little progress.
Dickson said the UK has a role and that the Department for International Development (DFID) has provided 130 million pounds worth of humanitarian support and promised to provide more.
Noted foreign affairs experts and businesspersons, including Inam Ahmed Chowdhury, Prof Selina Mohsin, Lt Gen (retd) ATM Zahirul Alam, AK Khan Foundation Trustee Secretary Salahuddin Kasem Khan, Advanced Chemical Industries Limited Director Juned Ahmed Choudhury, Mohammadi Group Managing Director Rubana Huq, Dhaka University's Honorary Professor Dr Shakhawat Ali Khan and former diplomats spoke on the occasion.
They focused on security, defence and education cooperation between the two countries. Commonwealth and current global issues, including the Rohingya crisis and climate change, also came up for discussions.