Two ambassadors, together at SBBC for the first time.
At SBBC’s third Executive Lounge meeting at Scandic no 53 in Stockholm on September 11, it was the first time that the two Ambassadors took part in an SBBC-meeting at the same time, having participated on-line several times before.
After a short welcome by SBBC’s President, Nathalie Tranefeldt, his Excellency the Ambassador of Bangladesh to Sweden, Mehdi Hasan, took the floor followed by her Excellency, Sweden’s Ambassador to Bangladesh, Alexandra Berg von Linde and finally Swedish Radio’s correspondent Naila Saleem talked from her perspective as a journalist, covering eight countries in Southeast Asia. Together they portrayed a Bangladesh which may be new to some. A “silent revolution” has taken place, said the Bangladeshi Ambassador. Not many outside Asia seem to have noticed.
50 years has passed since Bangladesh became an independent state, with Sweden as a strong supporter. Since then, Bangladesh has transformed from a very poor country into a “development superstar” according to The Economist. The economy has grown steadily, even during the pandemic, and Bangladesh is set out to be the 24th largest economy within 20 years from now.
The three speakers painted a colourful picture of the new Bangladesh and its remarkable positive development. But there are of course challenges. Bangladesh is ranking 7th of the worst victims of climate change, a fact that Alexandra Berg von Linde said could be an entry point for Swedish companies. As Swedish fashion companies both contributed to and benefited from the emerging textile industry in Bangladesh, Swedish green tech companies could tap into the market today and become a part of the development. Renewable energy is another interesting market where Swedish companies could contribute.
Bangladesh is today the second provider of global IT-workers after India. The country’s agricultural industry is now so efficient that it can provide for Bangladesh’s over 170 million people alone. The remarkable development and the fact that it will no longer be classified as “least developed” in a UN global trade context, calls for a new perception of the country.
During the Q&A-session the re-branding of Bangladesh was discussed. The image must be changed, which is an important task for both the Ambassadors. Media will follow, there is a need for other stories than the usual ones. Other channels and arenas than the media are important.
Many students from Bangladesh are coming to study at Swedish universities. Those who are interested to go to Sweden can meet at the Swedish Embassy, where Alexandra Berg von Linde is hosting a student fair and gatherings for students that have come back from studies in Sweden. Mehdi Hasan thought that Bangladesh could contribute to the ongoing expansion in Norrbotten. Perhaps it would be possible to set up some kind of collaboration between universities in the health sector, as there is a huge lack of nurses in northern Sweden, he figured.
Naila Saleem is the first South Asia Correspondent to the Swedish radio. She is on the constant lookout for stories that could illustrate the new Bangladesh, mentioning the IT sector, the pharmaceutical industry and the green transition as examples. She could clearly see that Bangladesh is a country that has come a long way – however according to her personal experience, road safety still being a hazard. A problem with media and the editors, she told, is that they tend to stick to the pre-concepted perceptions.
To view, more pictures from the seminar click here >>