The United States (US) is keen to help Bangladesh private sector in diversifying its export basket reducing dependency on readymade garments (RMG).
“We’re looking at to help Bangladesh with, is how Bangladesh can diversify its private sector to move some of it away from the ready-made garment industry into other, high-value areas to include the digital economy,” said USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick.
Lack of export diversification is one of Bangladesh’s challenges as the country’s exports have remained largely concentrated in the labour-intensive RMG sector in past few decades.
Glick made the remark in a joint a telephonic briefing with US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach on Friday after conclusion of the two-day Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) on October 28-29 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
During the IPBF, the USAID singed a MoU with a consortium of US retail, apparel, and footwear companies and industry associations to help hard-hit supply-chain workers especially women due to COVID in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
“The MOU that we signed establishes an intent to work together over the coming year on efforts that will help alleviate hardships faced by the predominantly women workers in the companies’ supply chains in these four countries,” Glick said.
The MOU, aimed to help fostering a more resilient sector and workforce, will enhance factory worker rights and welfare, and it will better empower women workers, she added.
The USAID has also announced new activities valued at more than 28 million US dollar to advance regional energy markets in South Asia including Bangladesh.
Keith Krach highlighted the ‘Clean Network program’ of the Trump Administration that addresses the long-term threat to data privacy, security, human rights and principled collaboration posed to the free world from authoritarian malign actors.
“The Clean Network is a comprehensive approach to addressing the long-term threats to data privacy, security, human rights, and trusted collaboration posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” he said.
Mentioning that in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, top telcos in Singapore, India, and Korea are members of the Clean Network, he said the Network has gained rapid success as it provides strength in numbers and power in unity and solidarity to stand up to the “CCP’s bullying tactics of intimidation and retaliation.”
Promoting US’s Indo-Pacific vision as a free and open region composed of nations that are independent, strong, and prosperous, the 3rd IPBF showcased high-impact private-sector investment and government efforts to support market competition, job growth, and high-standard economic development for greater prosperity in the region.
“We prioritize working with the private sector to pursue market-based and enterprise-driven solutions to today’s development challenges … Because private enterprise and free markets offer countries a powerful tool to help achieve self-reliance and prosperity,” Glick said.
Three US ministers – Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette spoke at the forum, participated by 2,600 business and government leaders from the US across the Indo-Pacific region.
Fifteen US envoys from across the Indo-Pacific including US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R. Miller also joined the forum.
Range of issues including Energy and Infrastructure, Digital Economy, Market Connectivity, Health and Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, US-Indo-Pacific Partnerships and Commercial Opportunities and Women’s Economic Empowerment were discussed at the 3rd IPBF.
It was revealed that the US Department of Commerce has supported nearly one million American jobs and assisted over 12,000 US companies active in Indo pacific region that includes Bangladesh since the first Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) in July 2018.