Bangladeshi Ambassador Mohammad Abu Zafar addressing an economic cooperation seminar designed to attract foreign direct investment into Bangladesh Image Credit: Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Bangladeshi expats must use financial institutions to remit money in order to support the nation’s efforts to build on its foreign reserves, the Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UAE has urged.

Speaking to Gulf News, Mohammad Abu Zafar discouraged the use of informal fund transfer means, known colloquially in South Asia as hundi.

“Following the pandemic, many nations are facing a crunch in their foreign reserves, including Bangladesh. Remitting through registered financial institutions like banks and exchange houses therefore helps support the economy back home, which also has an impact on the wellbeing of many an expat’s family living back home,” Abu Zafar said.

“Additionally, I would advise expats to be prudent in their spending at a time of rising living costs globally,” he added.

Cooperation seminar

Zafar was speaking to Gulf News following an economic cooperation seminar designed to attract foreign direct investment into Bangladesh. The seminar was organised by the Embassy of Bangladesh in coordination with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, and saw the attendance of Emirati government officials and businessmen.

The Bangladeshi delegation was led by Salman Fazlur Rahman, private investment and industry advisor to the Bangladeshi prime minister, who was accompanied by Nazmul Hassan, a member of parliament who represented the Bangladeshi pharmaceutical industry.

Bilateral trade

“Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at about $1.8 billion (Dh6.61 billion) in 2021, with $1.3 billion (Dh4.78 billion) the value of Emirati exports to Bangladeshi, and $500 million (Dh1.8 billion) the value of Bangladeshi export to the UAE. We are now seeking investment in a number of sectors, including food, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, transportation and textiles. On the other hand, a number of investment proposals from the UAE have also been made, and they are yet to take off,” Abu Zafar said.

The ambassador said there will be a follow-up taskforce to look at the most immediate opportunities.

“We are also expecting a UAE delegation ton visit Bangladesh early next year. At the same time, we also encourage Bangladeshi businessmen to invest in the UAE, especially in areas of competitive advantage,” he said.

Expat community

There are currently around a million Bangladeshi expats living in the UAE, making the UAE home to the second largest community of non-resident Bangladeshis after Saudi Arabia. Bangladeshis are also the third largest expat group in terms of nationality, after India and Pakistan.

The ambassador said the embassy and the Bangladeshi Consulate in Dubai could also soon resume accepting National ID applications.

“We had suspended the process during the pandemic, but expect to restart it by the end of the year,” Abu Zafar said.