- Wants to collaborate on climate change and Rohingya crisis.
- The US remains Bangladesh’s largest export destination as a single country.
- The US ranks sixth among the countries from which Bangladesh imports goods or services.
- In 2022, the US made its largest-ever contribution of $336 million for Rohingya refugees.
US President Joe Biden has sent a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, affirming his commitment to collaborate towards the attainment of Bangladesh’s economic objectives. Additionally, he expressed a keen interest in developing cooperation on matters of regional and global security, as well as humanitarian assistance, particularly concerning Rohingya refugees.
Furthermore, Biden has stated his eagerness to engage in a partnership with Bangladesh to realize their joint vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, says Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.
The US embassy in Dhaka conveyed the letter to the foreign ministry recently.
Focus on economic agenda and mutual goals
In the letter, President Biden reiterated the United States’ dedication to supporting Bangladesh’s economic agenda and its commitment to advancing mutual goals in the Indo-Pacific region. He emphasized the importance of the next phase of the US-Bangladesh partnership, highlighting areas such as regional and global security, economic development, climate change mitigation, energy initiatives, global health, and humanitarian aid.
Acknowledging the longstanding history of collaboration between the two nations in problem-solving, the US President stressed the significance of strong people-to-people ties as the cornerstone of the relationship.
Earlier on January 17, in a meeting with Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas discussed how the two countries would work together on issues of mutual importance such as climate change, business opportunities, and the Rohingya crisis.
“I look forward to working closely in the coming months to advance our relations based on mutual interest,” Haas said.
He said it was an opportunity to talk about the future of the US-Bangladesh relationship.
US condemns the election-related violence
Earlier, the US reaffirmed its support for the aspirations of the Bangladeshi people for democracy, peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression. It condemned the election-related violence and called upon the Bangladesh government to conduct credible investigations into reported incidents and hold perpetrators accountable.
On January 18, in response to a journalist’s question, US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller emphasized the need for the Bangladeshi government to launch credible and transparent investigations into reported incidents of violence. The US urged all political parties to reject political violence and called for a thorough examination of the events surrounding the elections.
Stating the severity of the situation, Miller stated, “We condemn the violence that transpired both during the elections and in the preceding months.” This condemnation was reiterated as part of a consistent stance by the US in urging accountability and justice.
Bangladesh and USA bilateral trade increased
It is encouraging that the US statement has emphasized the promotion of economic ties. Notably, in 2008, the volume of bilateral trade in goods amounted to $4,216.5 million, which increased to $14,115.5 million in 2022. In the next five years, bilateral trade and investment can be increased for mutual benefits.
Biggest export destination:
The United States remains Bangladesh’s largest export destination as a single country. In the fiscal year 2021-22, Bangladesh exported goods totaling $52.08 billion worldwide, with $10.42 billion going to the US. Although there was a slight decline in exports to the US in the fiscal year 2022-23, amounting to $9.70 billion, Bangladesh still retained the status of the top export destination.
During the latter phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh experienced notable growth in garment exports to the US. From October to December 2022, exports to the US reached $2.17 billion, but this figure decreased to $1.85 billion in the January-March quarter of 2023. Specifically, garment exports to the US declined by 3.5% in the July-October quarter of fiscal year 2023.
The United States ranks sixth among the countries from which Bangladesh imports goods or services. According to data from Bangladesh Bank, China tops the list as the largest source of imports, followed by India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Bangladesh’s imports from China in the last fiscal year amounted to $19.35 billion, whereas imports from the United States were significantly lower, totaling $2.83 billion.
The import-to-export income ratio suggests that Bangladesh enjoys a favorable balance of bilateral trade, which analysts view as an important aspect of trade relations with the US. While Bangladesh’s exports to the United States are primarily concentrated in a single category, imports from the US encompass a diverse range of products. Last year, imports from the US included mineral fuels ($790 million), iron and steel ($730 million), oilseeds and fruits ($440 million), cotton ($290 million), and machinery ($130 million). Additionally, various types of technology and service products are also part of Bangladesh’s import portfolio.
Humanitarian aid for Rohingya refugees
In 2022, the United States made its largest-ever contribution of $336 million to the Joint Response Plan (JRP) for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis. However, the U.S. contribution of $100 million so far in year 2023 represents a significant reduction. This reduction aligns with a broader trend of decreased American assistance globally in 2023, as reported by a government database.
According to data from ForeignAssistance.gov, U.S. global assistance dropped from $58 billion in 2022 to $27 billion in 2023. This decline in U.S. humanitarian assistance over the past year has occurred despite escalating needs, negatively impacting refugees worldwide, as acknowledged by Daniel Sullivan, a regional director for Refugees International.
However, as US remains the biggest donor to support the Rohingya Refugees and the nation remains pivotal in addressing the ongoing crisis between Myanmar and the Rohingyas. The U.S.’s interest in solving this crisis offers potential assistance in the peaceful repatriation of Rohingyas, easing the burden on Bangladesh, which has hosted 1.2 million Rohingyas for almost seven years.
Overall, the US’s reiteration on supporting Bangladesh’s economic agenda and advancement on mutual goals in the Indo-Pacific region serves as a testament to the enduring alliance between the two nations, fostering stability, shared prosperity, and collaborative efforts in addressing regional challenges.