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Demonstrating Democracy Facilitating Growth

Article - December 15, 2011
Dr M. Sayeedur Rahman Khan, High Commissioner for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is determined to raise the image of Bangladesh in the UK and other countries

DR M. SAYEEDUR RAHMAN KHAN, HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH
The battle for democracy has not been easy for Bangladesh, and despite interruptions that have stalled the democratic process, the people remain optimistic.

“The people of Bangladesh love democracy. They are liberal and progressive - not extremists or militants. They keep demonstrating to restore democracy and democratic processes,” he says. With this attitude, Bangladesh continues to move forward, hoping to sustain itself as a self-reliant nation. “This is the priority of the government - we want to depend less and less on foreign donations,” Dr Khan adds.

According to financial analysts and watchdogs, Bangladesh is expected to be one of the 11 emerging economies in the world in the next decade due to the country’s investment potential in such sectors as garments and textiles, tourism, power and energy, leather and leather goods, food, information technology and business services. One non-traditional sector Bangladesh is currently exploring is pharmaceuticals, with pharmaceutical firms currently supplying products to 75 countries, including Britain.

Bangladesh’s business environment is investment friendly when compared with other Asian countries, and the country also boasts a prime strategic location between two economic giants - India and China. Easy access by sea, air and roads allows for a huge market. It is also cost effective to invest in Bangladesh compared with other countries because of export processing zones and government incentives such as tax holidays.

Currently the UK is the third largest export destination for Bangladeshi products. Total exports to the UK from Bangladesh in the last fiscal year 2010-2011 were $2.23 billion - a 35 per cent rise from the previous year. Some export items from Bangladesh to the UK include shrimps, home textiles and woven garments, but the country has many more products to offer besides traditional items, ranging from computer software to ceramics - and even shipbuilding.

   Bangladesh and the UK have historic, traditional and friendly ties that predate 1971 and the two nations have worked closely in various international forums on a range of issues, including climate change, human rights and UN peacekeeping. “Bangladesh considers the UK to be a very dependable friend and development partner,” Dr Khan says. “In fact, the relations between our two countries are defined by a shared aspiration for democracy, development and human rights, and a vibrant trade and economic partnership, and the presence of a large British-Bangladeshi diaspora.”

     Currently there are about 500,000 British Bangla-deshis living in the UK, and 35,000 students from Bangladesh studying in the UK.

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