US looks to open commercial office in Dhaka

Outgoing envoy tells AmCham event

FE Report | Published: August 14, 2018 10:19:23 | Updated: August 16, 2018 20:34:51

Outgoing US ambassador Marcia Bernicat seen in this file photo

The United States is looking into the possibility of opening a separate commercial office in Dhaka as the world's largest economy seeks boost its trade ties with Bangladesh, the outgoing envoy said on Monday.

The US Department of Commerce has already assigned an official for evaluating the possibility of establishing such an office in Bangladesh, said US ambassador Marcia Bernicat.

She was speaking at an event in the capital organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh to bid farewell to the ambassador.

"The US Department of Commerce is now exploring the opportunity of opening a commercial office to collaborate with this chamber and also with the other chambers," she said.

The US ambassador's remark came while reflecting on the growing business ties between the two countries in recent years.

"US remains, by far, the largest foreign direct investor in Bangladesh while it is also the single top country for the exports of Bangladesh," Ms Bernicat said.

"Bilateral trade in goods in 2017 was over US$ 7.0 billion while we did manage a 61 per cent increase in exports from the US to Bangladesh last year," she added.

The US envoy also noted that recently, the US Department of Agriculture has assigned an agricultural attaché to help "manage the growing Bangladeshi demand for US agricultural products".

The envoy said Bangladesh needs to enhance its ease of doing business to attract more investments from abroad.

"Bangladesh's ease of doing business is way too low," Ms Bernicat told reporters after the event.

"There is good money to be made here. There are a lot of great partners. But 42 stops for opening a business is way too many", she added.

Reflecting on the issue of safety in readymade garment industry, the US envoy said that safety should become a part of the culture in this country.

"The progress that has been made (in terms of safety in garment industry) is enormous" Ms Bernicat said.

"But I would remind everyone that safety really has to become a part of your culture. That requires regulations," she added.

The ambassador said that Bangladesh needed to enhance its image abroad.

"Bangladesh needs to do a better job of selling itself", She said. "Too many people, when they think of Bangladesh, they imagine the Bangladesh of 1971."

"But, of course, you are not impoverished like you were or you were not devastated by storms," she added.

"Very few people know about the consistent 6.0 per cent or more growth of Bangladesh over the years," the envoy said.

"Who has to tell that story? The government has to tell that story, the industries have to sell it, the civil society has to sell it," she added.

Ms Bernicat, who has been the US ambassador in Bangladesh since February 2015, will be succeeded by Earl Miller, who is currently the US envoy to Botswana.



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