Economic development and respect for democracy mutually reinforcing | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 12, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:27 AM, February 12, 2019

Economic development and respect for democracy mutually reinforcing

Says visiting senior official of US Department of State

Despite having a dynamic and fast-growing economy, a senior official of the US Department of State believes that Bangladesh's future success is going to be fuelled by strengthening democratic institutions, governing structure, creating space for civil society and improving environment for economic growth.

Bangladesh has much to be proud of when it comes to economic growth and development over the past decade, said Thomas L. Vajda, US acting deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, while talking to reporters in Dhaka yesterday morning.

“It is important that the government creates sound environment to attract foreign direct investment in Bangladesh,” he said.

Vajda, who arrived in Dhaka on February 9 for a three-day official visit had extensive interaction with government and private sectors, meetings with Minister for Post, Telecommunication and ICT Mostafa Jabbar, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Recourses Nasrul Hamid, Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque and the business community.

“One message I conveyed in my meetings with government officials is economic development and respect for democracy and human rights are mutually reinforcing, not competing objectives,” he said.

“American businesses want to invest in countries that operate transparently, uphold the rule of law, and protect individual rights, and they are watching developments in Bangladesh,” he added.

Progress in these areas will not only expand Bangladesh's ability to maximise the economic tools and security cooperation but also protect the country's long-term growth and stability, he said.

He said Bangladesh simply needs to ensure that the procurement policies will be fair and transparent. And if the investment climate improves, Bangladesh will see an increase in investment from foreign companies.

“Our economic commitment in Bangladesh is robust…We are Bangladesh's biggest export market, we are the largest foreign investor,” he said, adding, “We have launched new initiatives under the Indo-Pacific vision to expand our partnership with the private sector in the areas of energy, digital economy and infrastructure.”

Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) is a concept reemphasised in 2017 by US President Donald Trump and it calls for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” where nations ”thrive in freedom and peace” and all states “play by the rules”.

Regarding the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and USA's IPS, he said, “We don't want to create a situation where one has to choose between two nations. We are trying to create an open environment where nations are free to choose what's right for them and for their future.”

He said Bangladesh shares US' goals of building a more prosperous, secure and interconnected region, and with its strategic location and fast-growing economy, it is poised to play a central role in the Indo-Pacific.

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