US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat on Tuesday said bilateral trade between the USA and Bangladesh reached an impressive US$ 6.8 billion in 2016.
She also mentioned that the United States is the top single-country export destination for Bangladeshi products.
"That's almost double what our trade was just 10 years ago. However, our two-way trade relationship remains heavily in favor of Bangladesh," she said while exchanging views with the leaders of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCCI) at Bangabandhu conference hall in the port city.
The US envoy said while the United States imported US$ 5.9 billion of products from Bangladesh in 2016, it exported just US$ 895 million worth of goods the same year.
"I recognise that much of this trade imbalance is due to macroeconomic factors as well as structural differences in our trade relationship: Bangladesh is the second largest producer of ready-made garments in the world and the United States is one of the world's largest consumers of garment products," she said.
Bernicat said there is a lot of potential to increase the sales of US goods and services here in Bangladesh. "We are already large suppliers of power turbines, soybeans, dredges, heavy machinery, and other goods and services. I look forward to discussing additional opportunities for US companies in Chittagong, especially supporting the development of port infrastructure."
About the garment sector of Bangladesh, she said a recent decline in RMG exports to the United States should encourage stakeholders to make urgent progress on labour rights so that the US apparel buyers feel more comfortable with the working conditions, both in terms of safety and freedom of association, in Bangladeshi factories.
The US Ambassador strongly encouraged factory owners and government officials here in Chittagong to engage in an honest and transparent discussion with workers and labour leaders to resolve some of the long- standing disputes.
Former CCCI president Engr Ali Ahmed and honorary consul of Philippine in Bangladesh MA Awal were, among others, present at the meeting.