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New Connections and Relationships the Priority at the 1st Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum in Dhaka, Bangladesh


New Connections and Relationships the Priority at the 1st Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum in Dhaka, Bangladesh

On the 13th and 14th of September, 300 delegates from 30 Commonwealth countries and beyond came together in Dhaka for the 1st Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum.

Organised by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) in partnership with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ZI Foundation, and under the leadership of Mr Salman F Rahman, the Forum showcased opportunities for greater trade and investment links between the Commonwealth and Bangladesh.

The Honourable Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, MP officially inaugurated the Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum (CTIF) at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center. The Prime Minister expressed her delight at hosting a strong Commonwealth delegation and highlighted Bangladesh’s pivotal role in fostering trade and investment within the Commonwealth.

The Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser, Salman F Rahman, addressed CTIF on Bangladesh’s investment opportunities, commenting “Bangladesh is a well-positioned country among the Global South economies. The Bay of Bengal is emerging as a critical region in the competition for control of sea lanes and global trade. Economies under the umbrella of the Commonwealth can leverage the opportunities for trade or setting up manufacturing units”.

In his opening remarks, Lord Marland, Chairman of CWEIC, discussed the remarkable expansion of Bangladesh’s economy and the opportunities for further growth within the Commonwealth, emphasising, “Bangladesh has proven its excellence in apparel export in the world. Countries under the Commonwealth platform can follow the best practices in the sector. We want to connect every dot of possibilities through the Commonwealth, home to 2.5 billion people which includes both advanced economies and developing countries.”

Over the course of two days, CTIF explored crucial Commonwealth focus areas, covering subjects such as FDI Attraction, Banking and Professional Services, Public Health, Green Finance, and Supply Chain Optimisation, among others. Speakers were drawn from all five regions of the Commonwealth; Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe, and the Pacific.

CTIF had the privilege of hosting Ministers from across the Commonwealth who actively participated in the Forum’s proceedings, engaged in various bilateral meetings, and met with members of the business delegations from across the Commonwealth and beyond. These distinguished Ministers were also formally welcomed at the Bangladesh National Parliament.

The Ministers in attendance included:

  • Hon Felix Mbayu, Minister Delegate to the Minister of External Relations (Minister for the Commonwealth), Government of Cameroon
  • Hon Dr Vince Henderson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business, Trade, and Energy, Government of Dominica
  • Hon Mokhethi Shelile, Minister of Trade, Industry, Business Development, and Tourism, Government of Lesotho
  • Hon Rose Kayi Mivedor, Minister of Trade, Crafts, and Local Consumption, Government of Togo
  • Hon Kitiona Tausi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Fisheries and Trade, Government of Tuvalu
  • Hon Dilum S Amunugama, MP, Minister of State for Investment Promotion, Government of Sri Lanka
  • Hon Francis Mwebesa, Minister of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, Government of Uganda

Emphasising Bangladesh’s dedication to supporting sustainable businesses and championing green investment, CTIF featured the presentation of the second Commonwealth-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Green Business Award. This award aims to encourage sustainable and eco-friendly investments and was bestowed this year by the Honourable Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, H.E. Sheikh Hasina, to Eco Brixs of Uganda.

In conjunction with CTIF, the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council inaugurated the Bangladesh Hub Office in Dhaka. During the opening ceremony, Lord Marland, Chairman of CWEIC, explained that the office was mandated to enable local businesses to access a wide range of trade and investment prospects within the Commonwealth, and will give international businesses an entry point into the vast Bangladeshi market. Mr Zillur Hussain MBE has been appointed as the Strategic Advisor for the Bangladesh Hub.

CWEIC would like to extend our special thanks to the organisers and partners, specifically:

  • Dr A.K. Abdul Momen, MP – Honourable Foreign Minister, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
  • Mr Salman F Rahman, MP – Private Industry and Investment Adviser (Cabinet Secretary) to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh
  • Mr Lokman Hossain Miah – Executive Chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA)

CWEIC extends its gratitude to the sponsors whose support made this event possible, including Eastern Bank Ltd, IFIC, Bashundhara Group, S. Alam Group, Unilever Bangladesh, RRM Steel, and the Robi Axiata, Daraz.

Lastly, CWEIC would like to thank Mr Zillur Hussain MBE, Chairman of the ZI Foundation and Strategic Advisor for CWEIC, without whom this project would not have been possible. Mr. Hussain’s leadership has been instrumental in the establishment of the Hub Office in Dhaka; he has also been a proactive advocate of the opportunities in Bangladesh, ultimately leading to the decision to host the Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum in Dhaka.