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Bangladesh – rapid growth, major challenges Bangladesh

Maas with Abdul Momen

Maas with Abdul Momen, © Felix Zahn/photothek.net

18.10.2019 - Article

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met his Bangladeshi counterpart Abul Kalam Abdul Momen today (18 October) during the latter’s first official visit to Berlin. Their talks focused on sustainable business, climate change and the refugee crisis in South Asia.

Bangladesh has experienced a significant economic upswing in recent years. With growth of 7.9 percent in 2018 and expected growth of 8.1 percent this year, the country is considerably ahead of its neighbours, India and China. At the same time, Bangladesh faces major challenges. In order to achieve sustainable development, the country must strengthen legal certainty and fundamental democratic freedoms and uphold social and environmental standards. “Germany is happy to continue supporting Bangladesh on its path to sustainable growth and greater legal certainty and fundamental democratic freedoms,” Foreign Minister Maas assured his counterpart Abdul Momen during the latter’s first official visit to Berlin today.

Shared responsibility for environmental and social standards

As one of its main importers of textiles, Germany is a close economic partner country to Bangladesh. Moreover, German investors increasingly view the country as an attractive and upcoming manufacturing location. However, this also means that the German business sector shares responsibility with the governments of the two countries for upholding fundamental social and environmental standards in manufacturing. Germany’s main instrument in this area is its National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights, which aims to ensure that German companies involved in global supply chains uphold human rights due diligence. At the same time, Germany liaises closely at the bilateral level with Bangladesh in order to support the country in implementing fundamental labour and social standards.

Help in dealing with the refugee crisis

Foreign Minister Maas also paid tribute to Bangladesh’s efforts to deal with the refugee crisis in the region and announced that Germany would continue providing financial support to help overcome this major challenge. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with a population of over 165 million people in an area of 147 square kilometres – less than half the size of Germany. Despite this, Bangladesh has taken in over 900,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar since 2017.

Early warning and preventive measures for the impact of climate change

Furthermore, Bangladesh is severely affected by the impact of climate change. Around ten percent of the country is not even one metre above sea level. The coastal regions are home to up to 35 million people whose livelihoods are already at risk today because of soil salinisation, flooding and monsoons. To ensure its very survival, the country has an interest in overcoming the impact of climate change and is also working at the international level to limit its effects. Germany and Bangladesh also work closely together on this issue. For example, Bangladesh is a member of the Platform on Disaster Displacement launched by Germany with the aim of ensuring better protection for people displaced by climate change or natural disasters. Bangladesh is also one of the pilot countries where the Federal Foreign Office is supporting early-warning and risk-prevention measures for natural disasters.

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