Sunday, 29 January, 2023
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Sustainable LDC Graduation

Switzerland to work with all Bangladeshi stakeholders

Switzerland to work with all Bangladeshi stakeholders

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Outgoing Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard has said that as a “solid and agile” development partner, Switzerland will work with all stakeholders in Bangladesh and its multifaceted cooperation will take on crucial issues to make the latter’s graduation from least-developed status “smooth, inclusive and sustainable”.

“The country is now at a crossroads with the upcoming graduation from the LDCs group. Switzerland welcomes this exciting development,” she told UNB in an exclusive interview.

Nonetheless, the ambassador said, this graduation carries with it both opportunities and challenges, and it will be essential to prepare for post-graduation scenarios – leaving no one behind, addressing structural issues and making the private sector more competitive.

“Being a country vulnerable to climate change, managing climate and disaster risks is another pressing challenge,” she said.

Evaluating the bilateral relations today, the Swiss envoy said 50 years is quite a long time but it is also only the beginning.

“Since the birth of your nation, we have grown a solid, diversified and robust partnership. This relation has evolved, and I am really glad when I see where we are today and also where we are heading,” she said.

During the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the bilateral ties last year, Ambassador Chuard said they were able to showcase the scope and diversity of the partnership.

“We launched our new Bangladesh Country Program that is aligned on the objectives of the Agenda 2030 and aims at supporting your country’s development for the years to come,” she said, adding that they danced to the songs of “Nodi Rocks”, an initiative for the youth to raise awareness on climate change and protecting rivers through music.

Together with other partners, the envoy said, they held exhibitions in Dhaka and Cox’s Bazar to underscore the significance of humanitarian principles.

“For the first time, our bilateral trade also crossed the significant milestone of US $1 billion in 2022. I think all these aspects show how           diverse and multifaceted our relations have become. While I look back, I am really proud of what we have accomplished together, and looking forward to the next steps of our common journey,” she said.

Responding to a question, Ambassador Chuard said Bangladesh is a beautiful country, boasting a colourful and vibrant society always full of energy.

“I have been lucky enough to travel widely throughout Bangladesh – from the chars in Gaibandha to the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Sundarbans. Far away from Dhaka’s hustle and bustle, experiences such as a motorbike ride in a far-flung Char has surely given me another perspective of this country, and I have loved doing it! The people here are amazing and exceptionally resilient.”

She also said, “Whether we talk about climate change or economic development, Bangladesh is everything from the chars, the agriculture to the busy ports or urban centers and its readymade garment factories, and it has been important for me to experience it firsthand. It is about the diversity of your country. It is also in all these fields, and many more, that Switzerland has worked with Bangladesh on its journey.”

Wherever she has been, Ambassador Chuard said, she has always felt welcome. “What maybe has impressed me the most are the women and the role they have played in the country's socioeconomic advancement.”

Switzerland has also supported numerous projects towards women’s empowerment and participation, including in the political arena, Chuard said.

On that note, the ambassador mentioned that Bangladesh is preparing for its next national election, expected to be held in January 2024.

“We call on all stakeholders, including political parties, to uphold and ensure citizens’ voting rights and I hope that these elections will be free, fair and credible. This is an important signal for Bangladesh and its citizens,” she said.

The ambassador said the two countries are working on an air service agreement and one MoU regarding knowledge partnership.

“While these are still under negotiation, I am confident that these agreements will pave the way for broadening the horizon of our future relations,” she said.

The Swiss envoy said, “I find that there is another positive development and it is related to the area of exchanging banking information.”

Switzerland is one of the world’s leading financial centers, they have made substantial contributions to international standards, and are committed to their effective enforcement.