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Bangladesh–United States relations

Bangladesh-United States relations
Map indicating locations of Bangladesh and United States


United States
Diplomatic Mission
Bangladeshi Embassy, Washington, D.C. United States Embassy, Dhaka

Bangladesh and the United States enjoy excellent diplomatic, economic and military relations. The relationship between the two countries is formed by strong bonds of friendship and shared values. Bangladesh is a key US strategic partner in South Asia.[1] The US is a major development partner of Bangladesh. On the economic front, American companies are the largest foreign direct investors in Bangladesh, and the US is also the single largest market for Bangladeshi exports. The US Military and the Bangladesh Armed Forces maintain long-standing cooperation in defense, counter-terrorism, maritime security and disaster management. Bangladesh also hosts flagship American international development programs in global food security, health and climate change.

Situated as the crossroads of Asia, Bangladesh is the one of the world's most populous countries, as well as a Next Eleven economy. Bangladeshi NGO BRAC has 2000 schools in Afghanistan.[2] It is a major player in international peacekeeping, promotes regional economic integration and connectivity, and is a pioneer of social development in the developing world. It is the world's third most populous Muslim country, and its voice of moderation in the Muslim world is highly appreciated and respected.[3] In South Asia, it is a founding member of SAARC and BIMSTEC. The US considers Bangladesh as a country vital to maintaining regional and global stability.[4]


  • Historical 1
  • Present 2
  • Trade and investment 3
  • Bangladeshi-Americans 4
  • USAID in Bangladesh 5
  • Defense Cooperation 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


US President Bill Clinton with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Prime Minister's Office in Dhaka during his visit to Bangladesh in 2000.
The Parliament of Bangladesh, designed by American architect Louis Kahn, is a landmark of 20th-century modern architecture.

During the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Nixon administration provided substantial diplomatic assistance to Pakistan due to its strategic interests of developing close relations with China through the Pakistani military junta. Pakistan was a Cold War ally of the United States, and for this reason, Richard Nixon and his national-security advisor, Henry Kissinger, supported its military dictatorship.[5] However, there had been widespread public support for the cause of Bangladesh as world opinion began to be sympathetic towards the plight of Bengali civilians suffering from the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities. Influential US lawmakers such as Ted Kennedy, Frank Church and William B. Saxbe and such cultural figures such as Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan engaged in formulating US public opinion against the Nixon administration. There was significant opposition and dissent within the US government, especially the State Department, against administration policy. The United States Consulate in Dhaka, led by Archer K. Blood, expressed profound dissent with administration policy through the famous Blood telegram, which is considered to be the strongest note of internal dissent in the history of the American Foreign Service. Ted Kennedy visited Bengali refugee camps in eastern India and strongly criticized the Nixon's support for Pakistan and its ignoring of "the brutal and systematic repression of East Bengal by the Pakistani army". In the summer of 1971, the Concert for Bangla Desh, was held at Madison Square Garden in New York, and was the world's first benefit concert, which future concerts such as Live Aid. The concert attracted 40,000 people and was organized by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar. The United States Congress reinforced arms embargoes on Pakistan and expressed strong opposition against the Pakistani military campaign and the role of the Nixon White House in supporting the Pakistani junta.

After the liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971, the United States formally recognized the newly independent country on April 4, 1972 and pledged US$300 million in aid.[6][7] Herbert D. Spivack was the principal American diplomatic officer in Dhaka at the time.[8] Four days later, the United States and Bangladesh agreed to establish diplomatic relations at the embassy level.[9] The consulate-general was officially upgraded to an embassy on 18 May 1972.[10] Bangladesh is one of the most pro American countries in the South Asia with 76% favourable of USA and consider it a close ally.[11]


Today the relationship between the two countries is based on what is described by American diplomats as the "three Ds", meaning Democracy, Development and Denial of space for terrorism. The United States is closely working with Bangladesh in combating Islamic extremism and terrorism and is providing hundreds of millions of dollars every year in economic assistance. During his visit to Bangladesh in 2003, U.S Secretary of State Colin Powell praised Dhaka as "an elegant, compelling and greatly needed voice of moderation in the Muslim world".[12]

Over 53% of Bangladeshis expressed favorable views of the US in recent opinion polls.[13] During her visit to Dhaka in 2012, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that America was “betting on Bangladesh” as the country achieves increasing economic and social progress.[14] President Barack Obama has strongly praised Bangladesh’s progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.[15] A strategic partnership agreement between Bangladesh and the US was signed in 2012, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Dhaka. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat in 2015 described relations as "vibrant, multi-faceted, and indispensable".[16]

US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C Richard said that the international community needs to put more pressure on Myanmar to resolve Rohingya issue saying it is Myanmar’s responsibility to take back its nationals from Bangladeshi refugee camp.[17]

Trade and investment

In June 2013, following the 2013 Savar building collapse that led to over 1,000 deaths, the United States suspended a preferential trade agreement with Bangladesh that allowed for duty-free access to the US market over poor safety standards. The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry then issued a statement that read: "It cannot be more shocking for the factory workers of Bangladesh that the decision to suspend Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) comes at a time when the government of Bangladesh has taken concrete and visible measures to improve factory safety and protect workers' rights."[18]

A high-powered team from the United States Trade Representative, the chief trade negotiation body USTR of America, will visit Bangladesh soon to monitor workplace safety progress, especially in the ready made garment sector, in an effort to restore GSP status to the country, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said on Thursday 04/09/2015 after a meeting with James F Moriarty, executive director of the North American Alliance of 26 retailers for Bangladesh Worker's Safety. US envoy in Bangladesh visited some garment factories and pleased with the progress of safety.[19]

Some 790 factories are now under the scanner of Alliance, which inspected 661 factories and approved corrective action plans for 591 factories. The Alliance, which also created a $100 million fund through its 26 signatories for Bangladeshi garment factories, will release its second annual report in North America on September 8, 2015.[20]

The United States is now one of Bangladesh’s largest foreign investors and our commercial relationship is equally promising: two-way trade has grown over 50 percent in the past two years, from $4 billion to more than $6 billion.[21] U.S. goods exports to Bangladesh in 2013 were $712 million, up 41.9% ($210 million) from 2012 and up 215% from 2003.U.S. goods imports from Bangladesh totaled $5.4 billion in 2013, a 9.0% increase ($440 million) from 2012, and up 158% from 2003.[22] As per June 2015 data from census USA Bangladesh exported $2.9 billion to USA and imported $374 million from USA.[23]

In the biggest-ever foreign direct investment in Bangladesh, Chevron Corp invested about $500 million more in the over $1 billion project to raise output from Bibiyana gas field amid growing demand.[24] Chevron operates the Bibiyana Field in Block 12, which is currently the largest producing natural gas field in Bangladesh.the company operates three fields—Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulavi Bazar—under production-sharing contracts signed with Petrobangla. In 2014, net daily production averaged 643 million cubic feet of natural gas and 2,000 barrels of condensate.[25] Chevron Bangladesh will spend $2.6million for 2016 corporate social responsibility programme, aiming to help local people in its work area in Sylhet. As part of corporate social responsibility programme Chevron spent $1.36m in 2015.[26]


The US-Bangladesh relationship is strengthened by the Bangladeshi American community. Prominent Bangladeshi Americans include the acclaimed structural engineer F R Khan, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, educationist Sal Khan, entrepreneur Sumaya Kazi, congressman Hansen Clarke and ambassador M. Osman Siddique. The Bangladeshi Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has been awarded the prestigious US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the US Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honours of the United States. Over 20,000 Bangladeshi students also currently study in the US. On the cultural front, Sisimpur, the Bangladeshi version of Sesame Street, is the most watched children's program on Bangladeshi television.[27][28]

USAID in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a partner country for the U.S. Government’s three major development initiatives: Feed the Future (addressing global food insecurity), Global Climate Change and the Global Health Initiative.[29] With USAID support, Bangladesh has seen significant improvements in living conditions for its people, particularly in the areas of food security, disaster preparedness, rural electrification, and health.The U.S. Government, through USAID, has provided over $6 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971. In 2013, USAID provided nearly $200 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh. USAID programs helped farmers raise fish and shrimp worth more than $127 million.[30]

The United States has also assisted Bangladesh during cyclone relief operations in 1991 and 2007.[31] Operation Sea Angel One in 1991 and Operation Sea Angel Two in 2007 saw US Marines actively joining Bangladeshi troops in providing relief to thousands of people in southern Bangladesh who suffered as a result of the 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone and Cyclone Sidr.

Defense Cooperation

SWADS personnel at a joint military exercise with the US Navy in 2011.

Each high endurance cutter transfer helps the Coast Guard avoid approximately $12 million in disposal costs. EDA transfers also help build and sustain global maritime partnerships in support of the Coast Guard’s national maritime strategy and promote regional and global maritime safety and security.The Coast Guard will deliver or install $7 million of new equipment and provide $5 million of technical and training services – all paid for by Bangladesh – before the ship begins its voyage across the Pacific.[32] United State Coast Guard transerred highed endurance Hamillton Class coast guard cutter USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725), USCGC Rush (WHEC-723) and USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722)to Bangladesh Navy as guesture of friendship between two maritime nations.[33]

CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) is part of an annual bilateral exercise series between the U.S. Navy and the naval forces of Bangladesh.[34] BN regularly conducts exercise with foreign friendly navies at home and abroad. These exercises helps to increase interoperability between US Navy. US Navy helped Bangladesh Navy establish a special force similar to US Navy SEAL. Bangladesh Navy SWADS are trained by US Navy personnel. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan Mozena provided assistance in the creation of the unit.[35]

Paratroopers with the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, were introduced to jungle warfare training as they took part in "Aurora Monsoon," the first platoon-level bilateral exchange between Soldiers of the U.S. Army and the Bangladesh Army at the Rajendrapur Cantonment Area near Dhaka, Bangladesh, Aug. 24 to 28."It's been a long time since we've trained in the jungle, and it's been even longer since we've IMT'd (individual movement techniques) through rice paddies, but that's exactly what these men did. They demonstrated shared hardship and true partnership with our Bangladeshi brothers," Army Lt. Col. Tobin Magsig said.[36]

The bilateral Exercise Sumo Tiger, conducted by United States Marine Corps and Bangladesh Air Force flying squadrons combinedly trained at Kurmitola Air Base. During the exercise, American and Bangladeshi forces conducted flight operations with U.S. F/A-18 fighter aircraft and Bangladeshi F-7s and MiG-29s. “We have a lot in common,” said Lt. Col. Flay R. Goodwin, the commanding officer of U.S. Marine Fighter-Attack Squadron 314. “We are both very proud of our history and we have seen the professionalism of the Bangladesh Air Force throughout this exercise.” [37] “Bangladeshi hospitality and eagerness to learn about our culture is just incredible,” said Capt. David Fenbert, the SOTG Detachment assistant officer-in-charge. “They are always making sure our needs are met, never stop asking about our culture and if there is something more they can do for us.” [38]

USS Tarawa and USS Kearsarge helped the survivors of the worst cycle Sidr hit the country in decade. The US relief exercise has been named as 'Operation Sea Angel II' symbolising the continuity of the US partnership with Bangladesh and linking Washington's engagement after the 1991 cyclone in southeastern coastlines.[39]

See also


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 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).

External links

  • History of Bangladesh - US relations
  • Trade in Goods with Bangladesh
  • Office of the US Trade Representative
  • US Department of State
  • US Embassy in Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh Embassy in America

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

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