Recent trend of US-Bangladesh relations

Mehjabin Bhanu is a Bangladeshi teacher, columnist and writer.


In recent times, the USA is very interested in further strengthening bilateral relations. Bangladesh also intends to deepen and enhance its ties with the US. Analysts say that the US wants a holistic relationship with Bangladesh beyond bilateral ties. US President Joe Biden expressed optimism about deepening relations with Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s ambassador to the United States. The United States is one of Bangladesh’s friendliest states and development partners. Political, economic, and trade relations between the two countries have strengthened, especially since the current government took power in 2009. In addition, the United States is one of the most important countries considering Bangladesh’s diplomatic interests. The United States’ contribution to Bangladesh’s socio-economic development and investment, as well as its security cooperation, is particularly significant.

Significance of Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher’s Bangladesh visit

Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher with a high-level US defense delegation, one of the advisers (special assistants) to US President Joe Biden and senior director for South Asia affairs of the White House’s National Security Council, arrived on Saturday afternoon in Dhaka as part of a series of political visits. Various issues of bilateral cooperation will be discussed during their visit. Among which the strengthening of defense cooperation and lifting of sanctions on RAB, Rohingya repatriation will be of particular importance in the discussion. The official visit of the US delegation has begun from Sunday.

Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher recently had a meeting with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam at the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, D.C. when she was Special Assistant to the US President.

Donald Lu’s upcoming BD visit 

Meanwhile, Donald Lu who became Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on September 15, 2021, is likely to begin his Bangladesh visit on January 15.

Regarding the Bangladesh visit of US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, Momen said it is very good news that he is coming. “He is like a policymaker in this area. We welcome him.”  “We have a very good relationship with the US. We have multifaceted engagements with the US. There will be talks on different issues when he (Donald Lu) comes.” He also hoped Donald Lu’s visit will help strengthen the good relationship between the two countries. Replying to a question from the reporters on the US sanctions on RAB, the minister said bilateral relation is not determined by a single issue. “The US is our biggest consumer and our biggest investor. With engagements in many areas, we don’t have to worry about just one issue. We both have common values and principles.” He said the US wants a democratic system and Bangladesh also wants a democratic system. “The US wants to uphold human rights. We want to, too. Three million people of Bangladesh have sacrificed their lives for human rights, justice and democracy,” he added. “We will talk about many things. It is open. Many issues will be discussed.”

Biden’s desire for working with Bangladesh

United States president Joe Biden has said recently that his country acknowledges their enduring partnership with Dhaka and termed Bangladesh’s economic growth in the past 50 years as a ‘remarkable story’. ‘I hope our nations will continue to work on democratic governance, climate change, refugees, and maritime security. We are invested in your success and support the ability of all Bangladeshis to freely participate in and contribute to their country’s development,’ he said. The US president made the remarks while accepting the credentials of the newly-appointed Bangladesh ambassador to the United States Muhammad Imran at the White House.

‘As 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of US-Bangladesh relations, I would like to acknowledge our enduring partnership with Bangladesh,’ Biden mentioned in his written remarks. Welcoming the new Bangladesh envoy in the United States, Biden said his administration looked forward to working with the ambassador to expand bilateral relations between the two countries. Biden also assured the Bangladesh ambassador of extending all sorts of cooperation during his tenure in the United States.

Bangladesh had emerged as an important partner on international trade and investment, climate change, humanitarian, refugee, United Nations Peacekeeping, and counterterrorism, maritime and other security issues, he continued. Biden said Bangladesh had expanded its largely agrarian-based economy to a regional economic power poised to become a major participant in global supply chains.

Appreciating Bangladesh’s generosity in hosting nearly one million Rohingyas, the US president said that they would continue to support Bangladesh in assisting these refugees and their host communities, and protecting their rights. ‘The United States is committed to finding sustainable and durable solutions to this humanitarian crisis,’ he said. On the Covid-19 pandemic, the US president mentioned that the United States was proud to partner with Bangladesh to address the global pandemic under the Covid-19 Global Action Plan. ‘We are committed to expanding our growing partnership in the months and years ahead,’ he remarked.

The new beginning of Bangladesh’s apparel export in US

American orders for apparel made in Bangladesh are growing faster than U.S. imports from clothes manufacturing giant China, according to data compiled by the United States Department of Commerce through the first 10 months of 2022.

From January to October last year, the United States imported apparel from Bangladesh valued at about $8.5 billion – representing a 49% jump from imports of Bangladeshi-made garments during the same period in 2021, according to the Office of Textiles and Apparels (OTEXA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Bangladesh’s apparel shipment to US, the country’s single largest export destination, increased by about 51 percent compared to last year. In the first 9 months of this year, the country has exported a record of more than 7.5 billion US dollars in clothing. Noteworthy, Bangladeshi apparel makers are getting a strong foothold in the United States of America market as exports posted robust growth in recent times. Despite the global recession, the export of Bangladeshi-made garments to the United States has increased at a significant rate.

The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka acknowledged Bangladesh’s role as a trade partner

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas said ‘he is looking forward to continuing the Bangladesh-US partnership in the new year (2023)’ “The United States is Bangladesh’s largest export destination, and U.S. garment sector companies increasingly identify Bangladesh among their most important trade and investment partners,” the Embassy said recently.

“We value our commercial relationship with Bangladesh, the world’s eighth most populated country in the world, and its place in U.S. commercial imports illustrates the competitive quality of Bangladesh-made products.”

Recent US Rohingya rehabilitation announcement is appreciable

The United States has contributed the most to the Rohingya crisis so far. At this year’s UN General Assembly, the US Secretary of State announced $170 million in additional humanitarian aid. Since 2017, the country has contributed more than 190 million dollars to the Rohingya crisis.

United States wants to resettle Rohingya from Bangladesh. Julieta Valls Noyes, Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Immigration of the US Department of State came Bangladesh for this purpose last month. It would be appreciated if the US administration works with Bangladesh government. It will reflect better mutual understanding between both administrations. The west and well-wishers of the promotors of humanitarian issues can follow the US footprint.

Looking ahead at the next 50 years

However, Bangladesh is an important regional partner of USA on economic, climate, humanitarian, and security priorities.  As 2022 marked the 50th anniversary of U.S.-Bangladesh relations, the United States and Bangladesh held multiple high-level engagements and strategic discussions in Dhaka and Washington D.C. to deepen bilateral, economic, commercial, and security collaboration. As an increasingly self-confident and prosperous Bangladesh moves away from a sense of obligatory dependency that defined its relationship with the US in the last 50 years, it is in the US’ interest to promote a sense of growing interdependence with Bangladesh, looking ahead at the next 50 years.


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