Economic diplomacy for expanding export and trade
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given clear orders to our envoys in the Middle East countries to work for expanding export to import-dependent Middle East countries. The PM has instructed it at the envoys conference held at Shangri-la Hotel in Abu Dhabi on last Monday. Bangladesh envoys from nine countries, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, and Qatar were present at the conference.
PM had also urged the diplomats to assess, in the case of investment and export, which country has what kind of demand and proceed accordingly. Not to mention, Bangladesh receives its largest share of remittance from the Middle East Countries. Additionally, Gulf States are our primary destination for exporting manpower. Apart from that, a strong economic bilateral relation can be established, if Bangladesh can convincingly prove of its potentials and opportunities for investment in different sectors such as port, shipbuilding, ICT, agriculture, RMG etc.
Although these countries are rich and have considerable demand for RMG, leather, jute, pharmaceutical, agro products, however, these countries have still not been explored as potential international markets for our exports.
Recently, DP World, a Dubai based company has taken a venture to set up 1300 -MW power plant at Sonagazi in Feni. Apart from energy, Bangladesh has sea port and shipbuilding sectors which can be lucrative destinations for investment to the Middle East countries. Just recently, Bangladesh handed over two large cargo vessels to India. This makes us hopeful that apart from RMG we have other potential sectors where we have proven credentials to expand further.
While the RMG sector is still the driving force of exports in the country, we must focus on product diversification as well as develop newer international markets. On that note - eyeing Gulf States will be a good and strategic decision.
ICT can be another potential sector for Middle Eastern countries. We have taken a grand initiative to setup 33 Hi Tech Parks. This initiative is going to make Bangladesh IT hub and also an attractive destination for ICT investment. The Gulf States probably understand we are living below potentials and they should invest in this sector to utilize our untapped sectors.
Lastly, Bangladesh is moving faster in its journey to overall development. We have aspirations of reaching middle income status by 2024 coupled with achieving a double-digit GDP growth. Since we have been maintaining a balanced bilateral and multilateral relationship with the gulf countries for long - now is the time to take those international ties to the next level - focusing on strong economic alliance. Therefore, it is the perfect time for our diplomats to look beyond and act in accordance with PM's diplomatic directives.