Noting growing relations with Bangladesh, Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley said they want to see more business from Europe to Bangladesh, noting that Bangladesh will be the ninth largest consumer market in the world by 2030.
"Bangladesh is increasingly an attractive market. And that is why our relationship is really becoming a shared partnership on so many different levels," he said while speaking as the chief guest at an interactive event titled "Bangladesh Decides: The Youth Speaks" (BDYS) at Dhaka University.
Ambassador Whiteley said they want to enhance and advance their commercial interests in Bangladesh.
"It's vital that young voices are heard on key issues facing their future. Today's event provided a valuable opportunity to exchange views with students on the economy and global challenges. The EU is supporting youth worldwide, including through our Youth Action Plan adopted last year," he said.
HerNet Foundation organized the first episode of the programme envisioned and conceptualized by the founding CEO and MD of HerNet TV, Alisha Pradhan.
The event, co-funded and supported by the EU Embassy in Bangladesh, is a testament to their commitment to empowering the youths of Bangladesh.
Highlighting the importance of export diversification, the EU envoy said readymade garment products are still dominating Bangladesh's export basket.
He appreciated Bangladesh's strength in the agriculture sector and said it has been an amazing success, and Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in staple crops.
The EU ambassador also highly appreciated joint efforts towards women's economic empowerment. "I see so much focus on women's economic empowerment in Bangladesh."
He also noted the revolution in the garment sector and highlighted how it provided job opportunities for women.
The EU is Bangladesh's principal trading partner. Now poised to graduate to developing country status, Bangladesh has made good use of duty- and quota-free access to the EU market, garnering over a 60 percent share of global imports to the EU under the 'Everything But Arms' system.
Bangladesh is the largest beneficiary of the EBA, with exports to the EU market reaching 24 billion euros in 2022.
The importance of fulfilling human rights and labour rights issues was also discussed at the event, which is an intrinsic part of the EBA arrangement.
The ambassador listened to the views of the students who engaged in a dialogue on how Bangladesh-EU relations can be strengthened and taken to a new level, and the importance of having soft skills was highlighted.
The event was telecast live on HerNet TV. Founded in 2018 and licensed by the government of Bangladesh, it serves as a dynamic platform to amplify women's voices and share their diverse stories globally.
The program, inaugurated by Dr. Md. Nizamul Hoque Buian, President of Dhaka University Teachers' Association (DUTA), brought together students from ten prestigious universities.
They engaged in discussions about the challenges and opportunities facing the youth in an evolving Bangladesh.
Other guests included Dr. Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, CEO, FBCCI; Dr. Zareen Delawar Hussain, district governor of Zonta International; Monir Pradhan, advisor of HerNet Group; Md Sohail Hossen, MD of Meghna Bank; Barrister Mutasim Billah, governor of Rotary; Golam Mostafa, president of AITO; Barrister Sameer Sattar, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries; Ziaul Haque Bhuiyan, National president of JCI; Zafir Shafiee Chowdhury, local president JCI Dhaka Ace; and Sanama Faiz, local president JCI Dhaka Metro; and actor Sohana Saba.
Partners including the French Embassy in Bangladesh, Rotary Club, UNB, Somoy TV, Bangladesh Pratidin, Gold Sands Hotel and Resorts, Kazi and Kazi Tea, Jaaz Multimedia, Dhaka Live, Meghna Bank, HerNet BlissMind, JCI, Zonta, Savar Tex, and BackPage PR played a crucial role in facilitating this event. Meghna Bank and other partners expressed their continued support for the BDYS initiative.
The speakers voiced their strong support for the HerNet Foundation and the European Union and vowed to work to further youth development, empowerment, and skill improvement in Bangladesh, leveraging the nation's significant youth demography to its fullest potential.
Alisha Pradhan, founder of the HerNet Group, chaired the moderation of the dialogue.
Rotary Club organized a blood donation drive at the venue, underscoring the commitment to the well-being of youths. Meghna Bank reiterated its continued support for this initiative, reflecting the collaborative spirit of the BDYS forum.
The forum, with its slogan 'The Voice of Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow,' is set to continue its journey with upcoming episodes in collaboration with the French Embassy, followed by engagements with the Saudi Embassy, Gulshan Club, and Westin Hotel starting from the onset of December 2023.