The commercial counsellor of the US embassy in Dhaka John Fay on Thursday said the Bangladesh market presents many opportunities for US firms and that - with the right policy decisions by the Bangladesh government - it will be an important South Asian market for American companies in the future.
“Despite the strong interest from the US private sector that the investment total represents, there remain many challenges to US and other foreign firms here. This includes payment issues, and the ability to repatriate earnings and revenue as well as non-transparent rulemaking and inadequate enforcement of Intellectual Property rights,” he said.
As the chief guest, John Fay was addressing the luncheon meeting titled, “Enhancing U.S.-Bangladesh Commercial Cooperation” organised by The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) in Dhaka.
He added that there are also significant logistical and transportation infrastructure gaps in Bangladesh that hamper and slow down trade in goods. All these issues limit Bangladesh's ability to achieve its full trading potential and they create disincentives for additional foreign investment.
“American companies want to invest in IT, education, healthcare, energy and infrastructure. So, Bangladesh needs to improve its investment climate to attract more FDIs,” he also said.
“My goal is for our office to work constructively with Bangladesh government officials and stakeholders to address these challenges that US industry faces in the market,” he added.
“We are ready to assist US firms in Bangladesh in dealing with market access issues and I sincerely believe that by helping them overcome them, we also will be able to help the overall Bangladesh trade and investment climate”, he also said.
Currently US- Bangladesh bilateral trade stands at 14 billion dollars, a figure that has grown dramatically in the last decade.
“Our trade relationship remains very concentrated though in specific sectors - for Bangladesh exports are almost fully in the apparel-related sectors and for the U.S. it is concentrated in few sectors such as steel and agriculture. US Industry is Bangladesh's largest foreign investor with a total of 4 billion dollars invested in the country. I would be happy to see this amount grow,” he furthered.
“Yesterday, I participated in TICFA discussions between the USA and Bangladesh government, discussions that were constructive and brought to the fore many issues that US businesses face in the market, - also discussions that have been going on since before our office was opened,” John also said.
Speaking there, AmCham President Syed Ershad Ahmed said despite global uncertainty, the country has shown consistent growth and development, with the private sector playing a crucial role in this progress.
“To unlock the opportunities, we need to assess where they lie, identify obstacles, learn from other countries, and strategize how to maximize potential for US stakeholders. We are confident that our bilateral relations will continue to improve through increased business and trade,” Ershad also added.
AmCham Vice President Syed Mohammad Kamal moderated the function while IFC country manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Martin Holtman, among others, were also present there.