Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister and High Commissioner to the UK was officially welcomed to Portsmouth this week during a visit to boost business, education and cultural links.
The visit, organised by the Portsmouth Bangladesh Business Association (PBBA), builds on progress made during Portsmouth’s 2019 Trade Mission to Bangladesh, when Portsmouth became a “sister city” with Sylhet in eastern Bangladesh. Since then, the city and the University of Portsmouth have become established in the minds of key decision makers, institutions and organisations in Bangladesh.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said:
“Portsmouth’s Bangladeshi community makes a significant contribution to the local economy. Since the trade mission in 2019, with the support of the university and our business community, we have been able to develop our relationship. Bangladesh is an exciting country offering opportunity and endless potential for our city.”
The Foreign Minister, the Honourable Professor Dr A.K Abdul Momen, and his delegation met with local groups associated with the PBBA at Portsmouth International Port, toured Portsmouth Harbour by boat and gave a public talk about peace and foreign diplomacy at the university. They attended an official welcome ceremony at Portsmouth Guildhall by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, with the raising of the Bangladesh flag and exchange of gifts. In the evening the Spinnaker Tower was lit in red and green to show support for Sylhet, which is currently experiencing severe flooding.
Professor Dr A.K Abdul Momen, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister said
“Bangladesh is doing really well in terms of development, and our trade with the UK is pretty good. We have a large blue economy, and we’re trying to level up, so we want to exchange ideas to try and achieve our goals.’
He said there could be potential investment in shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, and other economic areas and added
“We’re building lots of ships, so we could get some expertise from here. We can help facilitate business and create many more opportunities.”
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said the visit was important from an economic and cultural perspective, with another trade mission planned for next year.
‘This will make sure local companies benefit from increased trade. Bangladesh has got an average growth rate of eight per cent over the last 10 years. They’re booming and we need to make sure we create wealth in Portsmouth by working with Bangladesh.’
Bobby Mehta, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor of Global Engagement at the University of Portsmouth, said benefits from the partnership include students choosing to study here, and more support for environmental projects such as plastic research. He added
‘The key discussions we’ll be having is listening to what Bangladesh needs, wants, and how we can support them to benefit them and Portsmouth. Investment coming into the city puts Portsmouth on the map in a post-Brexit environment, to bring more jobs to the city and boost tourism.’