C’wealth leaders, experts call for green, resilient business recovery

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Dhaka, Nov 24: Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi has put forward a five-point proposal for a digital, green and resilient post-pandemic business recovery as chair of a high-level Commonwealth B2B Connectivity dialogue.

Bangladesh High Commission, London in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat organised the dialogue on ‘Connecting the Commonwealth Private Sector to Support a Digital and Green Recovery’ on the occasion of the Bangabandhu Birth Centenary, said a press release here today.

The proposal included creation of a Commonwealth B2B Connectivity hub and a digital market place as well as virtual training and capacity building programs for supporting Commonwealth private sectors, women entrepreneurs and SMEs for taking full benefits of e-commerce and cross-border paperless trade.

Recalling Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s call for economic emancipation of Commonwealth’s less advantaged, small and developing member at the 1973 Ottawa CHOGM, the Commerce Minister said, “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s rapid digitalisation of Bangladesh economy with 98 percent mobile banking access and more than 60 percent internet penetration including the Digital Commerce Policy 2018 has not only spurred a US$ 1 billion e-Commerce industry in Bangladesh but also cushioned its Covid-time economic growth to 5.24 percent, the highest in Asia.”

Moderated by Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and the Commonwealth Saida Muna Tasneem, the high-level event had UK’s Minister for Exports RT Hon Graham Stuart MP co-chair with Bangladesh Commerce Minister and Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland presented the key note speech.

Bangladesh Commerce Secretary Dr Md Jafar Uddin made the introductory remarks at the dialogue.

Bangladesh High Commissioner Tasneem said, “Under the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh took up the lead country role for promoting the Commonwealth Business-2- Business Connectivity Agenda at the 2018 London CHOGM and 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.”

British Export Minister praised Bangladesh’s proactive leadership as the lead country for the Commonwealth’s B2B Connectivity Cluster in advancing Commonwealth’s trade and business agenda and 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.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visionary leadership in keeping Bangladesh at the top of global economic growth charts even during Covid pandemic was highly commended by the Commonwealth Secretary General who 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.

Prime Minister’s Adviser for Private Industry and Investment, Salman F Rahman 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 Dato’ Seri Saifuddin Abdullah, Rwanda’s Minister for Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye and Jamaica’s Minister for Economic Growth and Job Creation Senator Aybn Hill.

Speaking at the event, Salman F Rahman said, “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 percent 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 percent GDP growth in 2020, in which the digital services and e-commerce played an instrumental role.”

Speaking on greening of the Bangladesh RMG industry, State Minister Shahriar Alam said, “Bangladesh hosts 91 LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified green garment factories, of which 25 are the highest platinum and the rest gold categories, while 6 of world’s top LEED certified RMG Factories are in Bangladesh.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already 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, he added.

Speaking on green and resilient business technology, Shahriar Alam 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 panelists 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 CVO, Chairman of Pacific Islands Private Sector Association Stephen Lyon, Business Policy Manager of COMESA(Africa) Business Council Ms. Kudzai Madzivanyika, Secretary General of International Chamber of Commerce of the UK Chris Southworth, and Group Head of Zalora Group and World Economic Forum Global Shaper Alin Dobrea.