United Kingdom is Bangladesh’s 3rd largest export destination with nearly $3.5 billion in the last FY, of which more than was 93% apparel products.
But business experts and leaders are saying signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK is vital for Bangladesh, to increase mutual trade and more foreign investment in the private sector between the two countries.
In addition, currently, as more than 200 British companies have $2.5 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country. The UK also acts as a hub for Bangladeshi goods to other parts of Europe.
Historically, a good number of Bangladeshi students pursue higher studies there. Currently, more than 700,000 Bangladeshis now live in the UK for education or business-related purposes and a good number of Bangladeshi origin UK citizens are there. Who are included in essential businesses and political procedures in the UK and making it a very important trade partner for Bangladesh.
So, Bangladesh needs to sign an FTA with the UK so that Bangladesh can take complete benefit of any prospective business deals.
It is worth mentioning that the UK imported $692 billion in 2019-20 FY. A lot of Bangladeshi products like apparel, software, bicycle, battery, pharmaceutical goods, etc. are currently going in the UK. Also items like jute goods, pharmaceuticals and footwear have a lot of prospects in the UK.
Asif Ibrahim, a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), insisted British investors relocate their businesses to Bangladesh and create more man-made fiber textile factories.
As Bangladesh relishes duty-free benefits with China, British investors can benefit by setting up their factories here, said Abul Kasem Khan, Chairman of the Business Initiative Leading Development.
This is why signing an FTA is very vital for Bangladesh, he added.
The UK is the 2nd biggest foreign investor in Bangladesh, registering accumulated an FDI stock of about $2.45 billion as of March, said DCCI President Shams Mahmud.