With just the recent conclusion of the US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue, the United States of America today reaffirmed its commitment to build a strong partnership with Bangladesh.
During an interview with NTV “Frankly Speaking,” Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs Robert Blake says US and Bangladesh had a very productive discussion.
“The initiation of this dialogue because we felt that we are cooperating now in so many different areas; for example, to promote regional integration in your part of the world, to work together on our very important security and counterterrorism cooperation, to work to expand trade between our two countries, and of course to continue work on democracy and governance.” -Mr. Blake
With regards on governance issue and the political process, the United States values very much Bangladesh’s status as a Muslim democracy.
“I think Bangladesh has made a great deal of progress, and I think it is important to state that at the outset.” -Mr. Blake
Mr. Blake underlines that the United States stands ready to work very closely with its friends in Bangladesh to help them address those kinds of challenges.
Those challenges run the spectrum, from things like labor rights.
According to Mr. Blake, Secretary Clinton talked a lot about during her visit making sure that Bangladesh has world-class labor standards so they can continue to export to the United States, so that buyers will be able to have comfort that Bangladesh is committed to world-class labor standards.
“It includes efforts on some of these very sensitive issues like disappearances, freedom of the media, and it includes efforts on continuing to combat corruption.” -Mr. Blake
He adds that the US government is very encouraged by the progress in trade and investment.
“Both of our exports are rapidly rising and our own exports to Bangladesh have doubled in the last year.” -Mr. Blake
Mr. Blake notes that one thing they talked about in the Partnership Dialogue was how both countries should try to add a private sector component, so that they can have trade and investment missions that accompany these missions both in the United States but also in Bangladesh.
On civil society area, yhe United States has partnered with Bangladesh in many areas, including vibrant, free media and civil society.
Mr. Blake says the US is concerned about freedom of media all over the world.
In Bangladesh, the US has meet regularly with editors and other journalists.
And there have been cases of concern where journalists have been killed, people have disappeared, people have received threats of one sort or another, he noted.
“So I think this is an area where the government must do everything it can to ensure that there continues to be a very welcoming environment for the pressand that the always-vibrant Bangladeshi press can continue to provide its very valuable role in Bangladeshi society.” -Mr. Blake
In May this year, poverty-fighting organization CARE and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched SHOUHARDO, a combined nutritional support with women’s empowerment initiatives to reduce child stunting, a key measure of malnutrition.
Implemented by CARE from 2004 to 2010, the first phase of SHOUHARDO was the largest non-emergency USAID food security program in the world.
The program was designed to reduce malnutrition among 2 million of the poorest people in Bangladesh.
UN says two million children are suffering from acute malnutrition in Bangladesh, where one-quarter of all households are hungry.
Out of the two million wasting children between the ages of six months and five years, 500,000 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, or severe malnutrition, according to the report, which was conducted to assess the impact of soaring food prices in Bangladesh in 2008.
Nearly 60 per cent of the households surveyed said they had insufficient food over the past 12 months, with real household income plunging 12 per cent between 2005 and 2008.
Malnutrition, which can directly cause death, affects child development and increases the risk of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth.