Extremely difficult to do business in Bangladesh: Dutch envoy

BDApparelNews Desk
5 May 2019  

Netherlands Ambassador to Bangladesh Harry Verweij. Photo Courtesy: Collected

Netherlands Ambassador to Bangladesh Harry Verweij. Photo Courtesy: Collected

Dutch envoy in Dhaka Harry Verweij has said foreign companies find it extremely challenging to set up firms in Bangladesh, reports The Daily Star.

Efforts were being made to improve the situation, but a lot more needed to be done, the ambassador said at a press meet organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) at the city’s BIISS auditorium yesterday.

He suggested improving the conditions of doing business in Bangladesh.

Verweij said there are a lot of positive and impressive things in Bangladesh and those need to be branded to improve the country’s image.

“The brand Bangladesh must be rejuvenated and upgraded. There is so much positive to tell of this amazing country -- economic vibrancy, diversification, productivity, economic growth and warm and welcoming people.”

The diplomat said Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) sector plays a pivotal role in enhancing the brand of Bangladesh. He called for making “Made in Bangladesh” a renowned global brand.

Mentioning that the Netherlands is a major destination for Bangladesh’s exports, especially garments, he lauded Bangladeshi factories for making much progress after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013.

However, he said more needed to be done. “Please keep the doors wide open for international relations and assistance. It is in all our interests.”

Verweij said Bangladesh is one of the low-ranked countries in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, and foreign companies find it difficult to deal with fraudulence and corruption while setting up businesses here.

“As an embassy, we try to link up Bangladesh and Dutch businesses. We see many opportunities here, and hope that contextual aspects will be dealt with by the Bangladesh government,” he added.

Verweij said the Netherlands, which has 46 years of bilateral relations with Bangladesh, saw the country as an equal partner, a shift from the donor-recipient relationship or development cooperation, as Bangladesh would graduate from the category of Least Developed Countries.

“In that regard, our focus will be on aid to trade. Bangladesh’s upward growth fits in with our role. The Netherlands will pay more attention in identifying and integrating alternative and innovative forms of funding.

“Our ambition is to be seen as a partner for finding multidisciplinary solutions that build a better future for all, thereby increasing trade and foreign investment,” he said.

Lauding the Delta Plan 2100 adopted by Bangladesh, the ambassador said his country was ready to provide technical knowledge and expertise in implementing the plan.

However, the implementation needs huge investments from different sources, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the private sector, as well as political support from the Bangladesh government and its people, he mentioned.

He said the Netherlands would support Bangladesh in addressing the Rohingya crisis and holding accountable the perpetrators of atrocities against Rohingyas.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court got a positive impression from Bangladesh that it would cooperate with the court after a delegation of the ICC prosecutor’s office visited the country in March for preliminary examinations, the envoy said.

“The accountability is important for Bangladesh. It is important for the Netherlands. We will support the court in its efforts to ensure responsibility for the crimes [against Rohingya],” he told the programme.

Stressing the importance of freedom of expression in Bangladesh, he said it is interlinked with democracy.

“To improve, we must allow space for others to give their opinion and the right to disagree. None should get offended by the truth or at another’s message and creative indulgence,” the diplomat observed.

DCAB President Raheed Ejaz and General Secretary Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke at the programme.