Promoting Bangladesh brand at home and abroad  

Shahiduzzaman Khan     | Published: January 19, 2019 22:11:42


The country's new foreign minister said branding Bangladesh globally is one of the top priorities of the government in the coming days. The government will continue its journey towards achieving its development agenda envisaged in Vision 2021, Agenda 2030 and Vision 2041 through successful application of economic diplomacy, he said late last week.

The country's economic analysts are laying stress on exploring the burgeoning market of the world's major emerging economies in a bid to diversify the country's export destinations. They have also called for effective country branding of Bangladesh abroad and also developing a globally recognised Bangladeshi brand to create a niche for its products in the world market.

In this context, the international community's cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, public-private partnership, and the empowerment of youth and women is very much important to build a prosperous Bangladesh, the foreign minister told the members of the diplomatic community.

The European Union (EU) has already expressed its willingness to work together on issues of mutual interests like good governance, deeper economic partnership, Rohingya crisis, migration, climate change, development cooperation, and beyond. Its ambassadors are further exploring ways on how to upgrade the existing instruments of engagement, in the context of evolving Bangladesh-EU relationship, in the post-Least Developed Country (LDC) era. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is already financing a good number of projects in energy transmission, wastewater management and climate change mitigation.

 The foreign minister is expected to explore ways to build new and innovative partnerships, particularly on how to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through effective partnerships as stipulated under Goal 17. The world's major emerging economies like China, India, Russia and Brazil with their huge population and booming economies offer huge potential for increased marketing of Bangladesh's exportables.

For laying a strong foothold in overseas markets, the country requires branding of Bangladeshi products, particularly of readymade garments-the country's top export earner. Also, intraregional trade within the Asian market needs to be enhanced which could help reduce the country's existing trade deficit with the other countries.

Bangladesh is arguably not known well enough outside the world that it deserves. The country has good ingredients for a strong brand, but lacks initiatives both from the public and private sectors for brightening its image.

There is no denying that the country achieved steady economic growth in the last two decades, reduced poverty sharply, improved in education and health indicators and increased farm productivity. It is now producing world-class garments sold in renowned stores across the globe.

Despite all these, the image of Bangladesh that appears in the global media is all too often an image set in in natural disasters and poverty. This indeed poses a question how could Bangladesh establish and sustain a positive brand image.

Former US ambassador to Bangladesh James Moriarty once said two resources -- the Bangladesh diaspora in the US and the business community, both at home and abroad -- can help achieve brand image for the country. There are similar diaspora communities in Britain and Australia who can contribute in branding the country's image.

 Observers say Bangladesh needs to be strategic in developing its brand. It should consider linking up its diaspora outreach programmes to create a truly global brand. Like the diaspora, the business community has the capacity to contribute to building the country's brand image.

There is no denying that Bangladesh has a lot of successes -- from healthcare to microfinance, to women empowerment -- that can be further promoted. Mobile and television penetration has witnessed an unparalleled growth for the past few years. Resilient economic and export growth and a single-digit inflation rate are also highly positive indicators. Yet, the country still suffers from deteriorating law and order situation, corruption, infrastructure bottlenecks, poor governance and failure to protect culture and heritage. All these pose as hindrances to branding Bangladesh.

 Public-private partnership with multinational involvement can improve the country's brand name. According to a survey report, 93 per cent young people of the country are tired of seeing negative news in the media. The media should have a decisively proactive role in helping the country in its efforts to brand itself in many ways.

Meantime, the government has taken steps for massive publicity of 10 special initiatives for branding Bangladesh. The government has started the construction of "Information Complex" in every district for increasing the capacity of the press and media. The government is set to establish communication channel for women and child development, two 10KW FM radio centres in Mymensingh and Gopalganj, and implement construction work of six full-fledged TV centres of Bangladesh Television in order to ensure free flow of information that would enhance the country's brand image. In the circumstances, there is a need for forming a brand cell headed by a minister. It is expected that all would work together to promote the Bangladesh brand both at home and abroad.

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