Brexit may bring trade and investment opportunities for Bangladesh
Nurul Islam Hasib bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-03-05 20:15:49.0 BdST Updated: 2017-03-05 22:36:00.0 BdST
British Minister for Asia and the Pacific Alok Sharma sees opportunities of increasing trade and investment with Bangladesh even after the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“I would say that leaving the EU, of course, gives us opportunities to do even more together with old established friends like Bangladesh.”
“So, I can see the opportunities for us in increasing trade and bilateral investment following our exit from the EU,” he told bdnews24.com in an interview, before leaving Dhaka.
He left Dhaka on Saturday night ending his first visit after being appointed a minister in 2016. He was elected to the UK Parliament in 2010, and before that, he worked for 20 years in the international financial services sector.
The UK is the third single largest destination for Bangladesh’s exports where all products enjoy duty-free market access following the EU’s everything but arms regime.
As the UK started talks to leave the European bloc following the Brexit referendum, Sharma said they would first negotiate their deal with the EU and then would start “formal negotiation” with any other country regarding trade deal.
“It is the case we need to negotiate our deal with the EU first. We cannot start a formal negotiation with any other country regarding trade deal”.
“But, of course, we can have a dialogue and apparently a business dialogue will be part of the strategic dialogue that takes place at the end of this month,” he said, referring to the strategic dialogue that both countries agreed during his visit to hold at the end of March.
He said past seven months he had been travelling extensively around the Asia Pacific region.
“And I found that every government that I talked to is keen to have a discussion on the bilateral trade deal with the United Kingdom.”
“I have found that investors in Asia and the Pacific are very positive and can see the opportunities regarding trade with the UK once we left the Union,” he said.
“What’s absorbing since the date of the referendum on the 23rd of June, we have seen a lot of new investments flowing into the UK, existing investments being reaffirmed”.
He gave the example of Japan’s SoftBank announcement after the date of the referendum that they were acquiring a British technology company UK’s Arm Holdings for £24.3bn, which is the biggest deal ever from Asia into the UK.
“What I think it demonstrates that the reason people see the opportunities in the UK and the reason they invest in the UK economy is that fundamentally we are a good place to do business.
“By that we mean we have low rates of corporate taxes, the ease of doing business is extremely high. We are at the top when it comes to innovation index. We have skilled workforce.
“I think these are all the reasons why people come to invest in the UK, and none of these would change as a result of us leaving the European Union,” he said.
The UK is one the largest development partners of Bangladesh. It also has substantial business interests in Bangladesh and remains the second biggest foreign investor.
Over 240 British companies are operating in sectors including retail, banking, energy, infrastructure, consultancy and education with leading centres of operation in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.
About half a million Bangladeshi expatriates live in the UK.
Sharma met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and held discussions with the Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali.
He also had meetings with opposition leader in the parliament Rowshan Ershad and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
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