Switzerland keen to widen trade ties with Bangladesh

27 November, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Switzerland wants to strengthen and widen its ties with Bangladesh to explore “amazing potential” together as Bangladesh is set to celebrate its 50 years of independence next year with Vision 2041 in place, says its envoy in Dhaka, reports UNB.

“Our relationship is very strong. My overall priority and overarching goal is to strengthen and widen this relationship, and it’s pursued in different domains,” Switzerland’s Ambassador to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard told UNB in an interview at her residence.

She said they aim to boost economic and trade relations between the two countries as both sides have the interest to do so.

“We see so much potential, be it from Bangladesh or be it from Switzerland. So, definitely this is one of the priorities,” said the Ambassador during her first interaction with the media since her arrival in May this year.

According to Swiss statistics, bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Switzerland has more than tripled since 2010 and stood at around $850 million last year.

Most of the major Swiss multinational companies as well as a number of small and medium enterprises are present in Bangladesh. The number of Swiss companies doing business with or in Bangladesh is around 100 now.

Ambassador Chuard said she really looks forward to having “open and forward-looking dialogue” with Bangladesh on issues that are very important for both the countries.

The issues include sustainable development goals (SDGs), migration, multilateralism and human rights.

Touching upon another priority, the Swiss Ambassador said development cooperation with Bangladesh remains one of the priorities.

“We’re now planning our future Country Programme 2022-2025 and our objectives are aligned with the SDGs and Bangladesh’s priorities,” 

said Ambassador Chuard adding that they really want to continue working with Bangladesh on issues ensuring inclusive growth, equality and prosperity for all. Swiss investments in Bangladesh are mainly concentrated in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, construction, technical services and fast-moving consumer goods.

Almost all top Swiss multinational companies are present in Bangladesh and continuously expanding their portfolios.

According to the Bangladesh Bank, Swiss investment inflow to Bangladesh during fiscal year 2020 stood at around US$ 45 million.

“I really hope that Swiss companies present here can play a role of Business Ambassadors and also show that things are good, and there’re potentials for companies to invest in Bangladesh, provided there’s a level playing field,” said the Swiss Ambassador.

Responding to a question, the envoy said Bangladesh has improved a lot in terms of infrastructure facilities.

She thinks Swiss companies, which are interested in the Bangladeshi market, will listen to their counterparts’ testimonies on the ground situation.

“I hope that economic relations will deepen during my tenure here,” said the Swiss Ambassador noting that progress is there in terms of business climate improvement and the government is embarking on many initiatives. Ambassador Chuard, however, said there is still room for Bangladesh to see further improvement in ease of doing business with legal security and business predictability in place for foreign investment.

“Once Swiss and foreign companies have a positive experience, they’ll continue to further expand their business. I see a lot of progress and positive intentions from the authorities. We’ll continue to have discussions in order to have effective solutions for the companies to the problems they usually face,” she said.

Ambassador Chuard said the growing trade and investment brings a win-win situation for both, contributing to a prosperous Bangladesh.

Further improvement in the business climate will encourage new companies to come and invest here, she said.