May the enthusiasm increase in the golden jubilee of the relationship -Arman Sheikh


After independence, we have to go a long way to transform from a war-torn Bangladesh to a digital Bangladesh. The United States is one of the few friendly countries that have continued cooperating in this process. In continuation, the golden jubilee of Bangladesh-US relations was celebrated at the desired level last April.
Although the then US government was not on the side of Bangladesh in the War of Liberation. But their common people and many diplomats took a stand in favor of Bangladesh. As a result “Concert for Bangladesh” was held. But at the end of the war, the US administration realized its mistake. Then US President Nixon sent a letter to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman expressing his interest in working with the Bangladesh government. And through this, bilateral relations started on April 4, 1972.
In the post-independence global Cold War, attempts continued to make Bangladesh a supporter of certain parties and to establish communism in the country. But after Bangabandhu’s return on January 15, 1972, Bangladesh’s “Neutral Alliance” position was confirmed. He declared, “Bangladesh is ready to establish relations with the Western world”. This balanced foreign policy of his later played a leading role in the formation of the state.

War-torn Bangladesh needed huge foreign exchange to build infrastructure and meet food demand. Before recognition, the United States provided Bangladesh with $142 million in food aid, more than 26 times that of the Soviet Union (6 million). From formal recognition to March 1973, the United States provided three times more aid to Bangladesh than the Soviet Union.
That continuity still continues. The United States is currently at the top in direct investment in Bangladesh. The direct economic-trade relationship between the two countries has now exceeded 12 billion (1 thousand 200 crores) dollars, which is higher than at any time in the past (Bonikbarta). At the moment, the United States is the top export market of Bangladesh as a single destination. The US is also the country’s top source of foreign direct investment (FDI). The country also ranks second as a source of remittances. The economic partnership between the two countries has almost doubled in the last five years. US giant Chevron meets more than half of the country’s total gas demand. The company claims itself as the biggest foreign investor in Bangladesh. The flow of remittances from the United States has increased by more than 100 percent in the last five years on a fiscal basis.
The United States follows different policies in maintaining diplomatic relations between countries and regions. According to American diplomats, US policy towards Bangladesh consists of the “three D’s”. These are Democracy, Development and Denial of Space for Terrorism. And these are built on the combination of political stability, human rights, democracy and security. US surveillance of these matters has increased since the Joe Biden administration came to power. This is evidenced by the US Treasury Department’s ban on RAB in December last year. In addition to Bangladesh, sanctions have been imposed on six other countries to varying degrees. It is a global manifestation of US policy positions.
The Bangladesh government has continued its efforts to solve the problem by taking the matter seriously. As a result, the positive activities of the US government have been seen in the golden jubilee of bilateral relations. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and the United States on May 3, the US Congress introduced a bipartisan resolution. It noted that the United States and Bangladesh maintain a rich and multi-faceted relationship focused on economic, security, governance and development cooperation to advance the shared vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific region.
The motion mentions Senator Edward Kennedy’s role in supporting Bangladesh’s independence in 1971 and President Bill Clinton’s visit to Bangladesh in 2000 as the first US head of state. Apparently, both countries are very interested in developing relations. Because the United States is important in financial terms, Bangladesh is not less important in geopolitical terms in the current situation.

Therefore, everyone needs to look into the opportunities of improving bilateral relations for their own benefit. The United States wants to reduce China’s dependence on imports. In this case, Bangladesh is one of the potential sources as an alternative. According to EPB statistics, the export of goods from Bangladesh to the United States increased by more than 52 percent in the first 10 months (July-April) of the current financial year. From this, it can be understood that Bangladesh is acceptable to the United States as an alternative. At first, the US considered some African countries and Vietnam as alternatives. But later, Washington rejected those possibilities on the China issue.
The most important thing for bilateral commercial development is the desired level of discussion and implementation of the discussed issues. The United States has already called for the removal of barriers to the export of cotton to Bangladesh. Bangladesh, on the other hand, has called for tariff concessions on exports of US cotton yarns and ready-made garments to the US. Now it needs to be solved in a faster time.
Bangladesh’s GSP facility in the US, the world’s largest single market, has also been suspended. As a result, Bangladesh is lagging behind India and Vietnam in the competition and is not able to achieve the desired level of growth. Along with this, there is a lot of complexity in bringing large investments from the United States to Bangladesh. The main reasons for this are opaque commercial laws and lengthy procedures. As a result, US companies have a large amount of business across Asia, but very little in Bangladesh. Moreover, there is no alternative to technological development to face the fourth industrial revolution. In this regard, bilateral technology and research exchange should be taken to the desired level soon to achieve capacity. Bangladesh’s development, which otherwise depends on cheap labor, will soon be defeated in the face of artificial intelligence.
The importance of Bangladesh in the Indo-Pacific strategic position is increasing day by day. At present, the Bangladesh government is working towards the implementation of Vision-41 by fulfilling the dream of Digital Bangladesh. There are many challenges ahead. On the other hand, the opposition superpowers are uniting against the Western leadership. In this situation, creating a “win-win situation” in the US-Bangladesh close relationship can be the best tool for both.
The author of this article is an International Political Analyst.