US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas has said Bangladesh and the United States can "go fastest together" in building trade and investment relationship between the two countries.

"I truly believe it. This is not just talk," he said, noting that the United States is willing to go as fast as Bangladesh is to deepen and expand the bilateral partnership.

The US ambassador was addressing an event titled "US-Bangladesh Business Forum: Building on 50 Years of Friendship '' held in Dhaka on May 10 hosted by HSBC Bangladesh, in partnership with the US-Bangladesh Business Council (USBBC).

In another panel discussion, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam and Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh also spoke.

Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Ahmad Kaikaus, CEO of HSBC Bangladesh Md Mahbub Ur Rahman and Vice President, Business Development for Chevron Jay R. Pryor also spoke.

Haas said the US-Bangladesh business delegation demonstrates just how ready the US private sector is to invest their time and energy in Bangladesh.

The event was organised to celebrate the relationship between Bangladesh and the USA and noted the important ways in which the two countries can unlock the potential of its bilateral trade.

The forum and dinner reception was joined by senior Bangladesh and US government officials, US and Bangladesh business community leaders, executive business delegates from the US Chamber of Commerce's US-Bangladesh Business Council visiting from the United States, and leading startup founders, dynamically engaged to strengthen the US-Bangladesh economic corridor.

Mahbub highlighted the historic importance of US-Bangladesh business ties and HSBC's capability to support the special relationship to reach new levels.

"Bangladesh has achieved steady growth over the past decade and is set to graduate into a developing country by 2026. With surging domestic demand, growing service and industry sectors and steady investment in digitization, the country will continue to attract foreign investments," he said.

With their strong international connectivity, he said, HSBC is well poised to foster the growing trade and investment between the United States and Bangladesh.

As a testament to the importance the US places on growing their trade and investment relationship, the U.S. Embassy will welcome the first ever full-time attaché from the U.S. Department of Commerce this summer, said Ambassador Haas.

He said Bangladesh has a great macroeconomic story and it has been among the fastest growing economies in the world over the past decade.

The country's financial leaders have managed its debt well and set aside ample foreign currency reserves to help it weather shocks, said the US envoy.

He said a company considering doing business overseas will certainly want to see a developed transportation system, access to power and water, and a well-trained workforce.

"Bangladesh has made great strides in fulfilling these needs. But a company also wants certainty and a policy framework that is understood and laws that are consistently enforced," the envoy said.

While low-cost labor is responsible for Bangladesh's growth until now, concerns over working conditions and labor rights will become the crux of trade decisions as Bangladesh transitions to a middle-income country, he mentioned.

The US envoy hoped that Bangladesh will soon make progress on labor rights and workplace safety so it can qualify for DFC and attract more US trade and investment.

The US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) was established by Congress with a $60 billion investment authorization. Unfortunately, until Bangladesh qualifies for GSP it cannot qualify for DFC financing, he said.

Powerful Tool to Grow Economic Ties

The US Chamber of Commerce has said collaboration between the US private sector and Bangladeshi startups can be a "powerful tool" in the new generation of growth of Bangladesh-US economic relations.

The US Chamber of Commerce's US-Bangladesh Business Council led an executive delegation to Bangladesh for a four-day visit to discuss strengthening of US-Bangladesh economic relations with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and senior members of the Bangladesh government across trade and commerce, foreign affairs, finance, energy, digital economy, water and sustainability.

The delegation ended its visit by meeting with over 30 Bangladeshi startups and partners at the Edward M Kennedy Center to ensure US companies are well connected to the talented youth and entrepreneurs of Bangladesh.

They are building state-of-the-art solutions across fintech, agriculture, water, food security, and professional services that are supporting Bangladesh's transition to a developed economy by 2041, said the US Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

The US delegates shared their experience on access to finance and angel investing, ideas to capture different segments of an emerging economy, providing access to secure platforms to build new products and services, and partnerships with the private sector to co-create products and solutions.

The executive delegation was led by the Council's Board Chair Jay R Pryor, vice-president (business development) at Chevron, as the mission lead, and joined by Visa and Excelerate Energy as corporate partners.

The Council's full board of directors and over 30 US company industry leaders from a diversity of sectors of cooperation also joined the delegation.

"It is our time now! Take your time taking opportunities in our conducive investment environment. Bangladesh has been recommended to graduate from the LDC in 2026. We are aspiring to become a developed and prosperous country by 2041," Prime Minister Hasina told the delegation.

For that purpose, she said, they need enhanced investment from friendly countries, especially from the US.

"With strong prospects, I will now assure you of the best possible policy framework to ease our business and investment climate," she said.

Celebrating the 50 years of US-Bangladesh relations and the importance of this partnership-building delegation, the mission lead Jay Pryor noted that productive, predictable, and constructive relations between the US and Bangladesh are essential for US-based companies to operate in Bangladesh and set the stage for an "investment and trade-driven" economic strategy for the next 50 years of partnership.

He said the Council works to strengthen trade and investment, promote transparency, and inclusion in market-based reforms so that the coming decades continue to build prosperity and opportunity for the people of Bangladesh.

Given the critical success and continuity of Digital Bangladesh, Hasina launched the Council's Digital Economy Taskforce, to be co-chaired by Meta and Visa, and will focus on the future of digital connectivity in Bangladesh's economic growth.

The Council also gave the prime minister an update from the US-Bangladesh Energy Taskforce, co-chaired by Excelerate Energy and General Electric, on key recommendations from energy industry leaders on how to enhance cooperation and development across Bangladesh's energy transition.

At the highest levels, the delegation raised the support needed for incumbent investors and identified areas for future business development and partnership.

It started its visit with a high-level meeting with US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter D Haas and leadership from the US Embassy and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bangladesh.

They also met with Prime Minister's Private Sector and Investment Advisor Salman F Rahman, Prime Minister's Energy Advisor Dr Tawfiq-E-Elahi Chowdhury, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader, Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, State Minister for Energy Nasrul Hamid, State Minister of Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and other senior officials from various ministries.

"The delegation's visit, joined by senior US industry leaders, is a reflection of the powerful partnership US industry is committed to building with Bangladesh," said Sidhanta Mehra, director of the Council.

Mehra said the Council is dedicated in its mission to be a catalyst to support the bilateral economic relationship and provide the business community with a platform to lead on advocacy that promotes transparency, predictable and consultative policymaking that encourages expanded trade and investment opportunities for US companies in Bangladesh.

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