I was recently invited to attend a special reception with Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem at the Civic Offices in Swindon.
Hosted by Bangladeshi-born Mayor of Swindon, Councillor Junab Ali, it was a pleasure to meet with the High Commissioner and to represent Swindon’s business community at the event.
We have a significant Bangladeshi community here in Swindon, including many local business owners, and an active Bangladesh Association, which was set up in 1992 and boasts around 1,500 members.
Since being sworn in as Mayor less than a year ago, Cllr Ali has played an active role in promoting bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the UK locally, and is one of 100 British-Bangladeshi Councillors to serve on local authorities across the country.
Bangladesh and the UK have an historic and friendly relationship. Over 450,000 Bangladeshis currently live in the UK and the UK was among the first European countries to recognise Bangladesh as an independent state in the 1970s.
In terms of bilateral trade, Bangladesh is a thriving nation, with a growing middle class and a population topping 165m. What’s more it has the 3rd highest rate of economic growth in the world according to the IMF.
Bilateral trade in goods and services between the UK and Bangladesh grew 119% between 2007-2012 – a trend that looks set to continue – meaning that Bangladesh represents a significant international trade opportunity for Swindon businesses, particularly in light of its rapidly improving digital infrastructure.
Against this background, I managed to have some highly constructive discussions on trade with the High Commissioner and Commercial Counsellor regarding bilateral trade and we agreed to discuss them further in the future at the Bangladesh High Commission in London.