Breakfast meeting with the Ambassador of Sweden in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Anneli Lindahl Kenny. Approximately 35 guests participated in the meeting. Ambassador Anneli spoke very informally to the audience about the economic and political situation in Bangladesh today.
Highlights from the Ambassador’s Presentations
Bangladesh is the world’s seventh most populated country with 160 million inhabitants on 1/3 of the country’s land area. 52% of the population is under 24 years old. The textile industry accounts for 80% of exports. It has contributed to poverty reduction.
There will be an election in Bangladesh soon. Although a Care Taker Government (Interim Government) would take over before, during and after the election to avoid an unfair election and corruption, it is very unstable in BD today. Violent strikes and burned cars make it hard to get around. It prevents people from getting to work.
The economy is being damaged by strikes which cost around U.S. $ 200 million / day. 2013 is the first year where growth will be lower than 6% since 2009. Corruption is everywhere. Recently there was a major accident in a newly built shopping center. The building was approved by the authorities even though it was not built properly. It shows a bit of the the widespread corruption and lack of transparency.
Swedish purchasers are actively working for the development of better and safer plants. It has a list of demands to improvement: no child labor, training, wages and working conditions. Only H & M has 30 people involved in controlling functions. It creates committees to discuss disagreements.
Finally The Ambassador Anneli said that dispite all these challenges our Nordic countries are continuing their activities there and the possibilities are many. She also mentioned that it is better to visit the country before you start up a business and for that purpose the Swedish Embassy is happy to help with visiting programs for individual companies visiting Bangladesh.