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Switzerland wants to see peace, economic growth in Bangladesh 

Development must be sustainable, inclusive: Swiss President 

AKM Moinuddin, UNB Staff Writer 

Wednesday 07 February, 2018 02:38:58 pm

Switzerland wants to see peace, economic growth in Bangladesh 

Dhaka, Feb 7 (UNB) – Expressing satisfaction over growing relations with Bangladesh, Swiss President Alain Berset has wished for a continuous economic progress in this country with a peaceful situation, democracy and election in place. 

“We agreed to seize new opportunities for cooperation and take the relationship to a new level,” he told UNB in an interview on Wednesday before wrapping up his four-day official visit to Bangladesh. 

President Berset said Bangladesh’s socio-economic development in recent decades has been “impressive”.

He said it is important to ensure that socio-economic developments are made in a “sustainable and inclusive” manner, leaving no one behind.

“Our cooperation with Bangladesh in various socio-economic endeavors has been very good. The 2030 Agenda provides opportunities to further strengthen cooperation between Switzerland and Bangladesh,” said the Swiss President. 

Asked about his just-concluded visit, President Berset said his visit has been very successful and he has been touched by the warm welcome he received.

“There is willingness on both sides to enhance and deepen the longstanding and committed friendship between our two countries,” he said.

Responding to a question on investment climate, President Berset said he welcomes Bangladesh’s efforts to improve the investment climate, respect for social, environmental and labour standards as well as legal security.

“I am confident that our economic relations will continue to grow,” he said adding that Swiss businesses can become a provider of technical solutions to Bangladesh, for example in new areas of economic cooperation such as clean-tech and renewable energy.

President Berset said he spoke not only with representatives from Swiss companies operating in Bangladesh but also with members of Bangladeshi business community to learn more about the trade and investment scenes in Bangladesh.

The Swiss President who arrived here on Sunday also said trade between Bangladesh and Switzerland has more than doubled since 2010.

Swiss companies hold investments in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, agro-food and construction industries while new investments are in pipeline. 

The Swiss President said small and medium-sized enterprises, which form the backbone of Swiss companies, are also gradually becoming interested in Bangladesh.

“However, challenges such as infrastructural limitations, and regulatory issues remain. I welcome the efforts made by the authorities to address these questions,” he said. 

Evaluating current relations, President Berset said development cooperation has been a pillar of our partnership.

“But we are seeing positive trends in terms of bilateral trade and investment, and the importance of political relations is also growing,” he said adding that his visit, the first by a Swiss President to Bangladesh, is a clear indication of that. 

Asked about priority for next couple of years, the Swiss President said Switzerland will continue to support Bangladesh’s development with targeted interventions to support poor, marginalized and vulnerable people.

“A particular focus will be on stronger social inclusion, economic development, governance and safe migration,” he said.

The Swiss President said Switzerland also cooperates closely with the government of Bangladesh and civil society in the area of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. 

He said the two countries have longstanding relations based on mutual respect, equal partnership and shared values. “Last year, we celebrated 45 years of friendship. We have been able to play an important role over four and half decades.” 

President Berset left Dhaka on Wednesday afternoon wrapping up his four-day official visit. 

He held meetings with President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and met Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar, apart from his other engagements.