Switzerland has said Bangladesh will become a “more preferred destination” for Swiss businesses in the future with further improved infrastructures and energy supply, regulatory predictability, legal security and the rule of law.
“Potential investors sometimes find it challenging to venture into Bangladeshi market in terms of ease of doing business,” Assistant State Secretary for Asia-Pacific of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland Ambassador Raphael Nageli told Dhaka Courier in an interview.
He, however, said Bangladesh has taken up several initiatives in recent years to draw foreign investments.
During their recent visit to Bangladesh, Ambassador Nageli and his delegation members have had “fruitful discussions” with various government agencies regarding these issues.
Responding to a question, he said he is aware of the potentials the Bangladeshi economy offers to the new investors.
“In order to take our economic relations to the next level, the two countries need to identify newer areas of cooperation, including the expansion of trade baskets,” he said.
The economic relations between Bangladesh and Switzerland, according to him, are growing rapidly and the bilateral trade volume has almost tripled since 2010.
Ambassador Nageli said investments and reinvestments from the Swiss companies operating in Bangladesh are also increasing regularly.
He said they held an exchange with Bangladeshi authorities to promote trade and investment relations between Switzerland and Bangladesh.
As a country, Ambassador Nageli said, Switzerland has a strong focus on innovation and R&D. “In this area, I see huge potentials for collaboration between the businesses of the two countries.”
He laid emphasis on identifying new areas of economic cooperation -- hi-tech, clean-tech, renewable energy etc. - where the two countries can mutually benefit.
Ambassador Nageli said the Swiss cooperation strategy for Bangladesh is largely aligned with Bangladesh’s priorities for SDGs and country priorities.
Under this strategy, he said, Switzerland will continue to promote human and social capital development in this country as well as the voice and rights of particularly poor and disadvantaged women and men for improving their wellbeing and equal participation in society.
Bangladesh and Switzerland held the fourth edition of biennial political consultations in Dhaka on April 2.
The main purpose of Ambassador Nageli’s visit was to participate in the meeting and lead the Swiss delegation.
Apart from taking stock of the current state of affairs of bilateral relations, the two countries discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of politics, economy and international cooperation during these discussions.
Evaluating the relations between Switzerland Bangladesh, Ambassador Nageli’s said the bilateral relations between Switzerland and Bangladesh are very friendly, historic and deeply rooted.
Humanitarian assistance and development cooperation were the corner stones of bilateral relations in the early days of bilateral relations, he said.
“The economic relations have grown considerably in the last 10 years. I’m absolutely confident that the multifaceted cooperation and partnership bonds between Switzerland and Bangladesh will be further strengthened in the days to come,” Ambassador Nageli said.
Responding to another question, he said Swiss Development Cooperation is still the strongest pillar in bilateral relations which are guided by partnership, solidarity and humanitarian values.
As a longstanding and reliable development partner of Bangladesh, he said, Switzerland is providing assistance in key sectors of poverty alleviation and rural development, including income and economic development, democratic governance and safer migration.
Switzerland for resolving Rohingya crisis respecting int’l laws
Switzerland has reiterated that all efforts towards resolving the Rohingya crisis must be guided by respect for obligations under international laws, particularly human rights law.
The country has also called for full implementation of the recommendations stipulated in the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
“Switzerland together with the international community will continue to work closely with Myanmar and Bangladesh,” said Ambassador Raphael Nageli.
He said they want to see that the safety and protection of the Rohingyas people and their voluntary return in safety and dignity are addressed in an “effective and comprehensive” manner.
Ambassador Nageli said Switzerland commends the government and the people of Bangladesh for the assistance and protection offered on humanitarian grounds to those who fled from violence in Myanmar, despite various socio-economic and political challenges.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingya population and more than 700,000 Rohingya people took shelter in Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, according to officials in Dhaka.
Ambassador Nageli said Switzerland highly appreciates the way Bangladesh provided shelter and support to the Rohingya population.
“The needs in the (Rohingya) camps are still very high,” he said sharing his Rohingya camps visit experience. He along with his colleagues visited Rohingya camps on April 1.
Responding to a question, he said Switzerland, which was one of the first countries to respond to the latest crisis with humanitarian assistance, stands by Bangladesh firmly during this difficult period.
Since 2017, Switzerland has committed more than US$30 million in humanitarian aid to alleviate the sufferings of the Rohingya people as well as the host communities.
Besides financial contributions and direct action support, Swiss experts are supporting the UN agencies and NGOs on the ground in Cox’s Bazar.
Ambassador Nageli said Switzerland has a strong commitment to stay engaged with Bangladesh and the affected Rohingya refugees through both humanitarian and development assistance.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation agreement on November 23, 2017. On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement” to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Earlier on March 31, a five-member Swiss delegation arrived in Dhaka from Bern to participate in the consultations.
During their stay in Bangladesh, the Swiss delegation travelled to the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar on April 1 to obtain a firsthand impression about the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Ambassador Nageli also visited Myanmar wrapping up his Bangladesh visit.