- Bangladesh to get duty-, quota-free access to UK market for 3 years after LDC graduation
- Election should be Bangladesh-led process
- Bangladesh's leadership important to ensuring pressure on big emitters in COP-26
British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson on Wednesday said that the UK would work with new and existing investors to ensure they could add benefit to, and benefit from, the success of Bangladesh's economy.
The UK is "strongly ready" to increase diplomatic trade, investment and security in the Indo-Pacific region over the next few decades, he said while speaking at the "DCAB Talk", organised by the Diplomatic Correspondent Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) at the National Press Club.
"As a high commission in Bangladesh, we are engaging deeply on issues including climate, biodiversity, and maritime security and many other areas, including working with British businesses to build trade and investment relationships as Bangladesh graduates from a Least Developed to Middle Income Country."
He said: "Graduation is a milestone, not a finishing line. We will continue to work with Bangladesh to achieve a smooth and successful graduation.
"We have also decided to continue the duty-, quota-free access to the UK market for three years after graduation, to 2029."
The envoy also spoke about the upcoming COP-26 to be held in Glasgow, Rohingya issues, defense and Covid-19 cooperation between both the countries.
He mentioned the UK's standing as the third-largest individual destination for Bangladeshi exports and being the second-largest cumulative investor in the country.
The envoy mentioned that British companies such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Unilever play an important part in the economy of Bangladesh, not least as some of the nation's largest taxpayers.
Referring to the first bilateral UK-Bangladesh Trade and Investment Dialogue last February, he said the UK hoped the market could be opened up more than in the past, to high-value services, including in finance, education and health services.
The high commissioner also said he was delighted that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would visit London and Manchester next month to be a key speaker in a roadshow to promote Bangladesh as an economic opportunity.
Regarding the upcoming 26th UN climate change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which the UK will host in Glasgow on October 31 to November 12, he said Bangladesh had a particular role to play at COP26 through Hasina's role as Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, which brings together 48 climate-vulnerable countries.
"Bangladesh's international leadership will be important in ensuring sufficient pressure is applied to the big emitters by the climate-vulnerable to reach the ambitious global deal that will be needed."
The high commissioner also said there was an opportunity in education, adding that many British universities were keen to contribute to higher education in Bangladesh.
Election should be Bangladesh-led process
Dickson hoped that the next general election would be held in a transparent and competitive atmosphere with participation of all political parties in Bangladesh.
He said that the election should be Bangladesh-driven and Bangladesh-led, noting that it was not for foreigners to say how elections should be held elsewhere.
"It is a matter for the Bangladeshi people to decide.
"The election should reflect the Bangladesh constitution led by Bangladeshis and fulfil the constitutional ambitions," he added.
He said that the UK would continue to support plural and democratic practice in Bangladesh.
Rohingya and other issues
Regarding the Rohingya issue, he said that they were concerned about recent violence in the camps.
"The UK was exploring ways that refugees could be given more productive ways to spend their time, with the opportunity for them to volunteer, provide camp services and basic livelihoods, and for children to be educated".
The UK reiterated the shared objective, which was for the Rohingyas to return to Rakhine as soon as possible in a voluntary, dignified and safe way.
Asked to comment on allegations of propaganda and conspiracy against Bangladesh which originated in the UK, the British high commissioner said the court had jurisdiction over the return of criminals. However, in the UK, if someone spreads hatred, the government takes action.
Answering a question on the recent attack on British MP Tulip Siddiq, he said, "You are informed that recently another British MP was killed. So, now the security of MPs, especially from the minority communities, is being taken extremely seriously by our government."
Among others, DCAB President Pantho Rahman and General Secretary AKM Moinuddin spoke on the occasion.