‘Trade Winds Indo-Pacific’ has visited Bangladesh as the US Department of Commerce’s first major trade mission to the country in recent history, the American embassy says.
“The large number of participating US companies reflects their confidence that Bangladesh is ready to expand its commercial ties with the United States through fair and reciprocal trade,” the embassy said on Tuesday after their departure.
The trade mission began on May 6 in New Delhi and concluded on May 13 in Dhaka.
Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service Ian Steff led the delegation from May 11-13 and took part in a 2019 ‘Trade Winds Indo-Pacific Forum and Mission’ to promote US-Bangladesh trade and investment.
The Trade Winds event facilitated meetings between 12 representatives of US companies and more than 40 business-to-business meetings with Bangladeshi companies, the embassy said.
Assistant Secretary Steff also held bilateral meetings with Bangladesh government officials and discussed intellectual property rights and other investment climate issues with US business leaders.
On Monday, he met key advisers of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina – including Salman F Rahman for private industry and investment and Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury for power, energy and mineral – as well as Commerce Secretary Mofizul Islam to discuss how to expand economic ties.
“As the eighth most populous country and with one of the highest rates of economic growth in the world, Bangladesh offers US companies a market of incredible potential with tens of millions of increasingly affluent consumers,” the embassy said.
The United States is among Bangladesh’s top trading partners.
“U.S. and Bangladeshi business leaders are increasingly expanding their commercial ties and partnerships, as evidenced by growing trade between our two nations and the strong participation of companies in our trade mission,” Assistant Secretary Steff was quoted as saying in the statement.
“I am confident that economic and commercial ties will continue to grow rapidly as issues related to the investment climate, intellectual property, and workforce are addressed.”
Noting that two-way trade between the US and Bangladesh has doubled to more than $8 billion over the past decade, Steff encouraged the Bangladesh government to realise the “full potential” of the bilateral commercial relationship by removing remaining trade barriers and improving the ease of doing business.
Trade Winds, now in its 11th year, has directly supported more than $3.4 billion in US exports in over 40 countries, and in 2018, US exports of goods and services to the Indo-Pacific region were more than $476 billion. In 2017, the mission brought 100 companies to Southeast Europe and accounted for more than $3 billion in US exports.
Thus far, Trade Winds has helped US companies conduct over 4,000 pre-vetted, business-to-business meetings and over 6,000 government-to-business meetings around the world.
This was Assistant Secretary Steff’s first visit to Bangladesh.
The embassy said he was impressed by the warmth and hospitality of the people of Bangladesh and Bangladesh’s ascent into middle income status. He was also attended an Iftar event in Dhaka hosted by Ambassador Earl Miller.