Sun, 24 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

US wants to see Bangladesh as a resilient Indo-Pacific partner

Update : 18 Jun 2023, 12:17

The United States wants to see Bangladesh as a more inclusive, democratic and prosperous country, and a resilient Indo-Pacific partner.

The USAID re-evaluated its Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) for Bangladesh and amended the plan to address evolving needs through 2027.

This CDCS was originally developed and finalized in 2020. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, USAID re-evaluated the strategy in 2023.

The CDCS goal is for Bangladesh to be a “more inclusive, democratic, prosperous, and resilient Indo-Pacific partner.”

The Country Development Cooperation Strategy reflects the Mission’s approach to working with a more mature government of Bangladesh, according to USAID.

Through this strategy, USAID builds on past work in economic growth, education, health, energy, environment, climate change, food security, disaster preparedness, democracy, human rights, and good governance using programming approaches that capitalize on the interdependence of development sectors.

The CDCS focuses on inclusive and integrated development efforts to drive greater impact across four development objectives.

These are strengthening democracy for an inclusive society, fostering sustainable economic growth, advancing human capital development and strengthening resilience to climate change and other shocks.

Bangladesh’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy 2020-2027 presents USAID’s approach to furthering the country’s development, according to the USAID.

The strategy acknowledges Bangladesh’s challenges and leverages its assets as an important and longstanding development partner.

Bangladesh is a strategically important country in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific region due to its geographic location connecting South and Southeast Asia, substantive security and development ties with the United States, and decades of consistent economic growth, according to the 27-page document published this month.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries with major challenges in poverty, governance, inclusive development, and institutional and civil society capacity, it mentioned.

Bangladesh is also home to one of the largest and fastest-growing youth populations, with nearly 30 percent of its population of 165 million between the ages of 15 and 29.

Bangladesh hosts one-fifth of the world’s refugee population, primarily consisting of the displaced Rohingya population, and has the largest refugee camp in the world.

Rapid urbanization coupled with a rapidly growing economy have put unsustainable pressures on infrastructure, basic services, natural resources, and the environment.

Impacts of Ukraine War on Bangladesh Economy

The USAID said the war in Ukraine has also impacted Bangladesh’s economy, food security, and poverty levels, while

at the same time revealing some of the underlying vulnerabilities in the country’s fiscal and financial systems.

Since the war in Ukraine began, foreign reserves have dropped, the taka has depreciated by close to 25 percent, and the trade deficit has grown by 8 percent as of November 2022, the strategy paper reads.

Inflation has also been increasing, especially in food, fertilizer, and fuel, such that in August 2022 the price of fuel

increased by over 40 percent, it mentioned.

In response, it said, the government of Bangladesh has implemented a number of measures aimed at preserving food security and retaining fiscal space, including dramatically increasing the subsidy on fertilizers and restructuring its fuel subsidy.

With rising non-performing loans and poor financial sector governance, banks have been poorly positioned to help the country weather the crisis, said the USAID document.

Overall, the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war has underscored the need to reform Bangladesh’s weak tax collection system, costly subsidies, and financial sector governance, it mentioned.

USAID said it contributes to creating a business-enabling environment through policy strengthening, building strategic partnerships, expanding access to economic opportunities and finances.

USAID activities support the Bangladesh government’s efforts to strengthen and streamline policies and regulations for better compliance with international standards in the areas of trade and business processes, it said.

More on this topic

More on this topic