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Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum pledges economic cooperation

Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum pledges economic cooperation

Staff Correspondent

The Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum concluded in Dhaka with the promise of enhancing cross-border investment to flourish respective economies.

There were nine sessions on investment, banking, technology, Cameroon's economy, pharmaceuticals and public health, SMEs, green finance, tourism and international supply chain on the concluding day of the conference on Thursday at Intercontinental Dhaka.

Bangladesh hosted the conference for the first time in collaboration with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC).

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the two-day Commonwealth Trade and Investment Forum on Wednesday.

Planning Minister MA Mannan, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder and Commerce Ministry Senior Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh attended various sessions on the final day.

Besides, Togo Investment Minister Rose Kayi Mivedor, Tuvalu Deputy Prime Minister Kitiona Tausi, and Uganda Minister Ugandan Minister Francis Mibisa were present.

Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Executive Chairman Lokman Hossain Miah, Bangladesh Export Zones Authority (BEZA) Executive Chairman Shaikh Yusuf Harun and City Bank Managing Director Mashrur Arefin also attended the event.

Financial Times South Asia Correspondent Benjamin Parkin conducted different sessions.

Planning Minister MA Mannan called for investment from Commonwealth countries to achieve economic benefits of infrastructure development in Bangladesh.

Addressing the session on investment, MA Mannan said that there is a huge potential in Bangladesh, especially in the pharmaceutical industry.

“We need capital. Let's come and invest in Bangladesh. Let's do business according to our laws,” he said.

In the seminar on investment potential in Cameroon, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said that Bangladesh has adopted the Look Africa policy and opened embassies in different African countries.

He said, “There are many similarities between Bangladesh and Cameroon. Our exports are very small, imports are about $160 million, and we want to use that vehicle now.”

In another discussion, Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rauf Talukder expressed hopes that digital banks will reduce risks in the financial sector by providing paperless financial services.

“In terms of conventional loan disbursement, verification of documents consumes time and creates risks sometimes. But there will be no risk as the credit rating will be virtually in digital banks. The customer's digital transactions will be considered as proof of his financial capability,” he said.

Standard Chartered Mauritius CEO Abrar A Anwar said that the concept of “banking as a service” has now gained momentum for global financial inclusion where startups and other technology-based platforms are providing services by verifying the customer's identity.

PWC Bangladesh Managing Director Mamun Rashid, Crown Agents Bank Officer Steven Marshall, Charlton managing partner Julia Charlton and Banctrust Executive Director Isil Caglayan also spoke on the occasion.

Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ZI Foundation are partners of the conference.

More than 300 international representatives including 13 ministers of Commonwealth countries participated in the two-day conference.

Commonwealth of Nations, better known as Commonwealth, is an international organisation of 56 member states, most of which are former territories of the British Empire.

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