Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley has said the time has come for moving ahead with a European Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (EuroCham) to promote trade and investment.
Mentioning that EuroCham would also help ensure a smooth transition to GSP+ era, he said “GSP plus is not an easy ticket.”
Charles Whiteley made the remarks during an event at his residence, marking the "soft launch" of the EuroCham to boost Bangladesh-EU business ties on Wednesday.
The EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) gives developing countries a special incentive to pursue sustainable development and good governance.
Eligible countries have to implement international conventions on human rights, labour rights, the environment and good governance.
There are some quite stringent requirements for GSP Plus accession and Bangladesh has already ratified the 32 conventions that are now required for GSP Plus membership.
Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC status in 2026 would also mean graduation from the current Everything but Arms (EBA) unilateral trade preference given to Bangladesh by the EU, Bangladesh’s largest export destination. There will be a three years transition period.
“Our focus is now ensuring a swift transition. I think EuroCham will really be helpful,” said Ambassador Whiteley.
The EU sees huge potential as Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and is predicted to be among the top 30 largest economies by 2036.
"It (EuroCham) should be business driven and business interests are reflected in it," said the EU ambassador, emphasising that the chamber will lobby for European business interests and the removal of barriers to trade and investment.
The EU envoy said the EuroCham is not here to compete with the existing chambers but to complement the existing bilateral chambers of commerce.
“It is an idea to help address problems and will forge links between Bangladesh and European businesses,” he added.
Why EuroCham now?
The EU said there is a well-established relationship with business potential. The EU is Bangladesh’s largest trading partner and there is keen interest from European companies to explore investment opportunities in Bangladesh.
The EU embassy says there are numerous EuroChams around the world with a proven record of supporting EU business.
The EuroCham will assist businesses in navigating European and Bangladesh legislation, including in rapidly evolving areas such as due diligence and the green economy, said the EU embassy.
It will facilitate the transition to GSP+ from a business perspective and bring critical thinking and analysis to bear on key business challenges, stimulating interest in existing and potential business sectors.
Senior government officials, business leaders, EU Deputy Head of Mission Brend Spanier were present at the soft launching event.