Canada relaxed its travel alert for Bangladesh last month, as the south Asian country has done well to improve its safety and security situation after the Holey Artisan attack in 2016, Canadian High Commissioner Benoit Préfontaine said yesterday.
Canada needs Bangladesh's support in business, he said at an event of the Canada Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CanCham) in Dhaka.
“I also want to mention to those of you who are worried, that we are taking a number of steps to facilitate business between the two countries,” said Préfontaine.
“One of the steps is what happened this summer when we changed the travel advisory for Canadians,” the envoy said.
“Until a month ago, we had a travel advisory saying that, due to higher risk in Bangladesh, we recommend that all Canadians avoid travel to Bangladesh unless it is essential,” he said.
“So, this has now changed. Now, the risk level is similar to so many other countries where a lot of business happens, where people can travel.”
“So, I am hoping this will help to bring more Canadians, to interest them, especially those who stopped coming after the Holey Artisan Bakery incident,” he said.
“So, I think this is the right time for Canada to do more here, and the Canadian business community of changing the perception about Bangladesh,” he added.
In recognition of the trade's importance, Canada for the first time appointed a senior trade commissioner at the Bangladesh office who has already started working.
On “attracting Bangladeshi diaspora”, Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose said bilateral trade has been growing at a rate faster than before as Canada provided duty-free access to Bangladesh.
Bose urged Canadian investors and the Bangladeshi diaspora to bring in bigger investments, pointing out that the government was developing 100 special economic zones across the country.
Exporting goods worth $36.66 billion last year, Bangladesh is currently the world's 43rd largest economy and expects to become 28th in 2032 and 23rd by 2050, he said.
The bilateral trade amounted to $1.61 billion last fiscal year. Of Bangladesh's total export value, 95 percent was derived from garment items.
Bangladesh received $2.79 billion in foreign direct investment last fiscal year, which was over $3 billion the year before. Masud Rahman, president of CanCham, said they aimed at bringing in more investors from among the successful entrepreneurs in the Bangladeshi diaspora.
CanCham at yesterday's event presented an honorary membership to Bangladesh-born Canadian entrepreneur Iqbal Roshd, who is a franchisee of Toronto-based Tim Hortons.