Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has presented a five-point proposal for a digital, green and resilient post-pandemic business recovery at a Commonwealth dialogue.
The Bangladesh High Commission in London and the Commonwealth Secretariat organised the virtual high-level Commonwealth B2B Connectivity dialogue on Monday.
Bangladesh also paid tribute to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to mark his birth centenary at the event, the high commission said in a media release.
The proposals presented by Munshi included the creation of a Commonwealth B2B connectivity hub and a digital market place as well as virtual training and capacity building programmes for supporting Commonwealth private sectors, women entrepreneurs and SMEs for taking full benefits of e-commerce and cross-border paperless trade.
The commerce minister recalled Bangabandhu’s call for the economic emancipation of the Commonwealth’s less advantaged, small and developing members at the 1973 Ottawa CHOGM.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s rapid digitalisation of Bangladesh economy with 98% mobile banking access and more than 60% internet penetration including the Digital Commerce Policy 2018 has not only spurred a $1 billion e-Commerce industry in Bangladesh but also cushioned its COVID-time economic growth to 5.24%, the highest in Asia,” Munshi added.
Moderated by Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and the Commonwealth Saida Muna Tasneem, the high-level event had Munshi and UK’s Minister for Exports Graham Stuart MP as co-chair.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland presented the keynote speech. Bangladesh Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin made the introductory remarks at the dialogue.
Tasneem said, “Bangladesh took up the Lead Country role for promoting the Commonwealth Business-2- Business Connectivity Agenda at the 2018 London CHOGM. (It) was scheduled to host Commonwealth B2B Conference in Dhaka this November to commemorate Bangladesh’s membership at the Commonwealth in 1972 under Bangabandhu’s charismatic leadership on the occasion of Birth Centenary of the Bangabandhu”.
The British export minister Stuart praised Bangladesh’s proactive leadership as the Lead Country for the Commonwealth’s B2B Connectivity Cluster in advancing the Commonwealth’s trade and business agenda.
He reiterated UK’s commitment as current Chair of the Commonwealth to work closely with Bangladesh bilaterally and multilaterally to enhance intra-Commonwealth trade to $2 trillion by 2030.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Scotland “highly” commended Hasina’s visionary leadership in keeping Bangladesh at the top of global economic growth charts even during the pandemic.
She reaffirmed Commonwealth’s resolve to work closely with Bangladesh as B2B Connectivity Lead Country to address the challenges of market access, lack of e-commerce skills and digital trade platforms.
Salman F Rahman, prime minister’s adviser for private industry and investment, and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam also spoke at the Ministerial Panels of the Dialogue along with Malaysia’s Minister for Communications and Multimedia Saifuddin Abdullah, Rwanda’s Minister for Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye and Jamaica’s Minister for Economic Growth and Job Creation Senator Aybn Hill.
“Digital Bangladesh Vision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for transforming Bangladesh into a digital economy by 2021 recorded a sustained high average growth rate of 7% GDP in last 10 years and put Bangladesh among a list of 26 top growth countries. Even during the pandemic, Bangladesh is being considered by the IMF among the five fastest growing economies with 5.24% GDP growth in 2020, in which the digital services and e-commerce played an instrumental role,” said Salman.
Speaking on greening of the Bangladesh RMG industry, State Minister Shahriar said Bangladesh hosts 91 green garment factories certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED.
As many as 25 of these factories are ranked platinum, the highest category and the rest are in gold category. Six of the world’s top LEED-certified RMG factories are in Bangladesh.
Hasina has created Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund using the country’s own financing and pledged at the 2015 Paris Agreement reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 5 percent voluntarily and 15 percent with climate financing by 2030, the state minister said.
Speaking on green and resilient business technology, Shahriar said, “Our green factories are equipped with energy-efficient technologies, protecting the planet by saving natural resources and minimising carbon emission.”
He called for building a Commonwealth digital green technology information hub for businesses to share technological knowledge for greener and equitable business recovery.
The event, first of its kind, brought together ministers, and apex chamber leaders and trade experts from various Commonwealth regions, including Asia and ASEAN, South Asia, Africa, Europe; Caribbean and the Pacific to discuss how governments and the business sector can work together to deliver a digitally-inclusive and green COVID-19 recovery.
Private sector panellists included Chairman of Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council Lord Marland, President of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Dr Sangita Reddy, President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Fazle Fahim, Chief Executive Officer of Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council Samantha Cohen, Chairman of Pacific Islands Private Sector Association Stephen Lyon, Business Policy Manager of COMESA(Africa) Business Council Kudzai Madzivanyika, Secretary-General of International Chamber of Commerce of the UK Chris Southworth, and Group Head of Zalora Group & World Economic Forum Global Shaper Alin Dobrea.