The government wants to expedite its efforts to brand Bangladesh abroad highlighting its areas of strength and make the country a more attractive destination for trade and investment through stronger team work within the government keeping in mind the challenges ahead. An inter-ministerial meeting of the committee on "Branding Bangladesh Abroad" was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs highlighting the preparation, planning, implementation and monitoring of possible challenges of Bangladesh in the context of graduation from the list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, were, among others, present. Dr Momen emphasised identification of the areas of strength that Bangladesh has both as a nation and as a sovereign state and asked for stronger coordination amongst the stakeholders for projecting them abroad. Also read: It’s US that trained RAB: FM Momen He also highlighted the need for an “open, inclusive and fact based programmes” for projecting a correct and aspirational image of the country.
Distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya on Tuesday said that “Information Blindness” has been prevailing in the country. Dr Debapriya, also the member for UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP), made the remarks while addressing a discussion meeting on the use of financial information and right to information towards ensuring transparency and accountability. Read: CPD starts 4-day international conference on 50 years of Bangladesh Monday Organized jointly by the Asia Foundation, CPD and the Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF), senior research fellow of CPD Towfiqul Islam Khan made the key-note presentation at the meeting held at the ERF’ auditorium at Paltan. Debapriya said either the government or the concerned authorities could failed to perceive that information could be a supporting force. “There is also a lack of modern mindset on effectiveness of information towards optimum utilization of limited resources which is also not consistent with the moderate world,” He also opined that even such dearth in information and data is also not consistent with the development desire of the country as well as its efforts to ensure recovery from the pandemic, attaining the SDGs by 2030 and thus becoming a prosperous developed country by 2041. Moderated by ERF general secretary SM Rashidul Islam, its executive committee member and former Bureau chief of Reuters Sirajul Islam Qadir also spoke on the occasion. Debapriya said since Bangladesh is now on the way towards graduation from the LDCs, such country needs to have “trigger indicator” to avail support from the international community if it faces any challenge beyond graduation. “So, the situation of graduation from the LDCs by Bangladesh has increased the demand for financial information by 100 times. Although the matter is acknowledged verbally, but no such action is still evident,” he said. He said after LDC graduation, sufficient support would not be available if there is no timely supply of full-fledged information. It will also tarnish the image of the country. Read: CPD for reinstating previous fuel prices During the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the global production and supply chain was halted which led to the decrease in demand. Under the circumstances, the governments had to increase expenditure, especially to the lagging behind communities, through various support measures. He said even the public representatives were not fully aware of the fact as to what was the overall stimulus package amount, who were the recipients and how much amount was disbursed. It was not possible to disburse even 20 per cent of the Taka 2,500 cash support (Eid Gifts) to each beneficiary due to lack of data and information. He observed that the researchers as well as the public representatives are not getting latest information. As a result, it is not being possible to make qualitative evaluation on education, health and in other sectors.
The vast and unexplored resource frontiers of the oceans have the potentials to bring transformative changes to the lives and livelihoods of more than one billion people in the LDCs, Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Rabab Fatima has said. "And the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) can indeed be the pathway to an ocean of opportunity for them," she said. Ambassador Rabab Fatima was speaking at a high-level event of the International Seabed Authority on the opportunities offered by UNCLOS to LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS. Read: Bangladesh deeply committed to human rights, fundamental freedoms: Rabab Fatima The event held on Tuesday was moderated by Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority Michael W. Lodge. A significant number of Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives including the LDC Chair also attended the event. As LDCs are among the world’s most resource-constraint economies in the world, the Permanent Representative urged the International Seabed Authority to ensure the fair share of various benefits and opportunities for LDCs in the deep-sea particularly in the areas of marine scientific research, capacity building and access to marine technologies for exploration of resources in the high sea. Ambassador Fatima is co-chairing the Preparatory Committee for the LDC5 Conference to be held in Doha in January 2022. Read:AIBTRI holds development programme on Bangladesh's LDC graduation Referring to the dedicated focus of the Draft Doha Program of Action on the devastating impacts of climate change on oceans, she stated that various forms of pollution are seriously disrupting the balance of marine food webs and ecosystems. She emphasized the importance of scaling up global efforts to combat marine pollution and uncontrolled activities in the deep sea. The Ambassador concluded her remarks with a call to create more space for the women and youth of the LDCs to have enhanced access to the new and emerging opportunities that the ocean can offer.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan has sought the British lawmakers' support for the continuation of duty-benefit for the country after it graduates from the least developed countries (LDCs) category. He met with UK lawmakers Rushanara Ali and Rupa Huq in London Saturday. They discussed various issues, including cooperation between the UK and Bangladesh on LDC graduation, possible changes in the tariff regime and how Bangladesh can retain its access to the UK market in the post-LDC era. Read: BGMEA chief urges UK buyers to raise prices During the meeting, Faruque stressed the need for engagement of non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) in the development of the country. He said NRBs have the immense potential to contribute more to Bangladesh's development with their skills, technical expertise, knowledge and investment. Many UK-based NRBs are well-established businessmen, academicians, researchers, and several of them also hold influential positions in governments as politicians and members of parliaments. They can play a significant role in shaping the financial, social and economic conditions of the country, the BGMEA chief said. Read: BGMEA stresses ethical sourcing for sustainable supply chain He sought the cooperation of the two British MPs in encouraging Bangladeshis living in the UK to invest in different potential sectors of Bangladesh, including high value-added and non-cotton textiles. Faruque also informed the British MPs about the strides made by Bangladesh's apparel industry over the years in safety, sustainability and social compliance.
New taxes on air travel and maritime shipping could raise the billions of dollars needed to help the countries suffering most from climate change, a UN expert said Friday. "Such levies, based on the well-established polluter-pays principle, could raise hundreds of billions of dollars annually to assist small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) recover and rebuild from the damage caused by climate change," said David Boyd, UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment. The climate crisis is also a human rights crisis, he said in a message directed at world leaders gathering in the UK's Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) that starts Sunday. "People living on these small islands and at least developed countries are already suffering devastating losses and damage from climate change – more frequent extreme weather events, floods, droughts, rising sea levels, and saltwater contamination of their water supplies and agricultural lands." Read: EU lauds Bangladesh’s leadership on climate front
The apex trade body of Bangladesh's apparel industry has said there is no major barrier for the country to get GSP+ benefits in the European market whenever applicable as the country graduates from the club of least developed countries (LDCs). Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan came up with information during a press conference at a city hotel Saturday while noting that the precondition for the GSP+ on import threshold (7.4 %) has been removed from the proposed GSP regulations for 2024-2034. The conference was arranged to share the outcome of his recent visit to the US and Canada. The BGMEA chief thanked the EU for its favourable initiative to countries like Bangladesh. Everything but Arms (EBA) is a special arrangement for the LDCs, providing them with duty-free, quota-free access to the EU market for all products except arms and ammunition. Read: BGMEA discusses export, FDI opportunities with Bangladesh envoy The BGMEA President said the European Union (EU) is Bangladesh's key export market with around 60 per cent of exports. He said Bangladesh will enjoy the existing duty-free and quota-free market access in the European countries until 2029 following the country's graduation. "The government and the BGMEA are working together to ensure the continuation of the EBA facilities for 12 years after 2029," he said.
Head of Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh Ambassador Rensje Teerink has said she wants to see Bangladesh more and more as an “important actor” not only in the Bay of Bengal but also as part of Indo Pacific Strategy due to its strategic position and looking at how they can work together as “like-minded partners” in broad areas. “I think there's lot we can cover,” she said, highlighting the geopolitical aspect of cooperation mentioning that the EU is open to all countries which are wishing to cooperate with. While delivering the keynote speech at a virtual dialogue titled “Bangladesh-European Union Relations: Prognosis for the Future” the Ambassador said they want to continue working with their like-minded partners in this “turbulent world.” Read: Bangladesh, Germany hold first-ever Strategic Dialogue And, the Ambassador thinks, here Bangladesh will have an important role to play, and if there is "one thing" that she is going to take back to Brussels is to keep Bangladesh on the agenda. Ambassador Teerink said she is aware that it is yet the case to do strategic partnership with Bangladesh but they at least need to keep it on the agenda. Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, hosted the dialogue as part of its ongoing Ambassador’s Lecture Series.
Highlighting multidimensional challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to the LDCs, Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Rabab Fatima has identified access to Covid-19 vaccines as the top priority for the LDCs. She said if this issue is not addressed immediately, the LDCs will face serious humanitarian and economic misery for years to come. Ambassador Rabab Fatima and Ambassador Bob Ray, Permanent Representative of Canada, jointly convened the first Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting of the Fifth United Nations Conference (LDC-5) on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday. Read:Covid-19 vaccines: Commonwealth health ministers demand equal access for everyone They were elected as the co-chairs of the PrepCom at its organisational session in February 2021. The LDC-5 conference will be held in DOHA, Qatar in January 2022. The LDC-V conference is envisaged to be one of the biggest UN conferences in 2022. The next programme of Action for the LDCs is expected to come up with a new global compact to address both the immediate and structural issues of the LDCs. As a co-chair, Bangladesh will also have the opportunity to move forward some of its key priorities, including sustainable graduation and international support measures for graduation. Notably, the UN recommended Bangladesh to graduate from the LDC category in February, 2021. The President of Malawi Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera joined the meeting virtually as a keynote speaker in his capacity as the global chair of the LDCs. Read: China proposes setting up int’l forum on vaccine cooperation As the host of the LDC-5 conference, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi also delivered a keynote speech. Among others, President of the UN General Assembly Volkan Bozkir, President of the ECOSOC Munir Akram, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J Mohammed OECD Development Assistance Committee Chair Susanna Moorehead, and USG, OHRLLS Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu, spoke at the meeting. The General Debate was addressed by a large number of Member States, including important development partners, who highlighted serious consequences facing LDCs due to the pandemic and expressed solidarity and partnership towards an ambitious 10-year Programme of Action for the LDCs. Ambassador Rabab Fatima stressed the need for an incentives-based graduation package for the graduating and graduated countries from LDCs as they are at a high risk of sliding back—both by the Covid-19 impact and the loss of LDC specific support measures. Among other things, she also underscored the multidimensional challenges and vulnerabilities faced by the LDCs in the areas of poverty and inequality, trade, climate change, external debt, migration and remittances. Read:Covid vaccine: China to send additional 6 lakh doses as gift This meeting sets in motion the substantive work for the LDC5 Conference to be held in Doha, Qatar in January 2022. It will continue through the week. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, and Information and Communication Technology Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed are expected to participate in different thematic sessions of the meeting later this week.
Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations Ambassador Rabab Fatima has said the lack of infrastructure, especially in the areas of ICT, health, and education is acutely felt during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Therefore, it should be our urgent priority to build adequate infrastructure in all these areas," she said. The envoy made remarks while speaking at a virtual panel discussion on ‘Accelerating infrastructure investments for a sustainable and resilient recovery and restoring trade’ at the ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council) Forum on Financing for Development in New York on Tuesday. Highlighting the critical importance of digital infrastructure for providing vital services to people, Ambassador Fatima urged the developed countries to ensure much needed technology transfer to LDCs and other vulnerable countries. Also read: ECOSOC chief focuses on pandemic, SDGs, climate action She also underscored the importance of ensuring fast recovery from the pandemic as well as better resilience against current and future shocks. Ambassador Fatima called for the integration of the disasters and climate change issues into investment decisions to build long-term sustainability and resilience. Underlining the weaknesses of the global supply chain infrastructure, she emphasized the need for further improvement of trade infrastructure including in the areas of transit, transportation, and shipping etc. The envoy put specific focus on the grants and long-term concessional financing in infrastructure investment, public-private financing, blended financing, south-south and triangular cooperation etc. She urged the advanced economies to fulfill their unmet promises in the areas of DFQF market access and other trade benefits to LDCs. Also read: Bangladesh elected ECOSOC member The 2021 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development is being held from 12-15 April 2021 in New York. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is leading the Bangladesh delegation. He delivered a pre-recorded statement at the special segment of the Forum held on April 12. Bangladesh also participated in the Special High-level Meeting with the Bretton Woods Institutions (World Bank and IMF), WTO and UNCTAD on Tuesday.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Sheikh Fazle Fahim on Saturday said there would be new facilities in trade and commerce to be gained from graduating out of the Least Development Countries (LDCs), besides improving the country’s status.