British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed Rushanara Ali, a Labour Party MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, to join the cross-party trade envoy network as a trade envoy for Bangladesh, agencies report. The appointment, made on the occasion of Bengali New Year ‘Pahela Baishakh’, underlines the ‘importance’ the UK attaches to its trade and investment partnership with Bangladesh.
Hearing the announcement, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Alison Blake said, “I’m delighted that at the start of the new Bengali year, the Prime Minister has appointed Rushanara Ali MP as the UK’s Trade Envoy for Bangladesh.”
Bangladesh’s economy is growing impressively and there are exciting opportunities here for British companies, she was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the British High Commission on Friday.
Blake said British companies have world-class export potential and Ali will be an excellent champion for British business in Bangladesh. “I and my team are looking forward to working with Ali to further strengthen the long and friendly relationship between the UK and Bangladesh,” she said.
On her appointment as Bangladesh trade envoy, Ali said she is delighted to have been appointed to this cross-party role as the UK Trade Envoy to Bangladesh. “The UK and Bangladesh have historic and long-standing ties. Bangladesh has been identified by UKTI as an emerging market with substantial trade and investment opportunities,” she said.
Ali said she wants to see Britain play a twin role helping Bangladesh thrive economically and supporting the country’s efforts to tackle the threat of climate change. “It’s a country of particular importance to me: a third of my constituents have Bangladeshi heritage and I was the first person of Bangladeshi origin to be elected to the UK Parliament.”
The UK is the largest investor in Bangladesh and has a deep and longstanding relationship with the country. Ali will play a pivotal role in building on these ties to raise awareness of business and investment opportunities, and further enhance the collaboration between British and Bangladeshi companies, said a British High Commission statement on Friday.
Ali will also use her experience of the market to help address climate change concerns and share the UK’s expertise on labour standards to support Bangladesh’s garments industry, it said. The cross-party Trade Envoy programme was launched in 2012 to build bilateral trade relationships and help drive economic growth in countries identified as key markets for the UK.
They are unpaid positions. There are currently 24 Members of Parliament and Peers from across the political spectrum working as Trade Envoys covering over 50 different markets. All Trade Envoys are personally selected by the Prime Minister for their experience, skills and knowledge of particular sectors and countries.
This is part of a new whole-of-government approach to boosting trade with priority markets and sectors. Rushanara Ali is the Labour Party MP for the constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow. In her Parliamentary career, she has been Shadow Minister for Education and International Development and a member of the Parliamentary Treasury Select Committee.
Ali currently serves as a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee for Energy and Climate Change. Two-way trade between the UK and Bangladesh stands at £2.3m. The UK has strong business interests in Bangladesh and remains the largest foreign investor.
Over 100 British companies are operating in sectors including retail, banking, energy, infrastructure, consultancy and education with main centres of operation in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. The UK is also the third single largest destination for exports from Bangladesh.
Over 20,000 Bangladeshi students have studied in UK universities in the last five years and our cultural and people-to-people links lie at the very heart of the bilateral relationship. Through UKAID the UK remains the largest bilateral donor of grant aid to Bangladesh (£180 million in FY2014/15).