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Bangladesh not getting US attention; this trend to continue under Biden

  • Published at 11:26 am November 13th, 2020
File photo: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sitting beside then US Vice President Joe Biden during the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York City PMO

Washington will view Dhaka through the lens of US-China rivalry, a US expert tells Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh has been unable to attract attention from the governments of the United States, including the outgoing one led by Republican Donald Trump, Michael Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia of Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, has told Dhaka Tribune through an email.

And, he said that this trend will most likely continue under the incoming administration headed by Democrat Joe Biden.

 Kugelman also said that under Biden, the US government will view Dhaka through the lens of Washington-Beijing rivalry and that the US will encourage Bangladesh to distance itself from China.

Another expert, Zack Cooper, research fellow of Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, echoed Kugelman, saying that Dhaka deserves more attention from the USA.

He also said that there are real opportunities for cooperation between the two countries in many areas, especially trade and investment.

Michael Kugelman  

“Bangladesh has always been woefully under the radar in Washington, and unfortunately I fear that will remain the case under a Biden administration,” he said.

“I do imagine that he will view Bangladesh through the lens of US-China rivalry, and he will aim to engage with Dhaka in order to encourage it to distance itself from Beijing. Otherwise, we can look for a Biden administration--which intends to promote a strong democracy promotion agenda--to focus criticism on Dhaka for its crackdowns on dissent and other human rights issues,” said the expert.

“We can also look for Biden to bring attention to the plight of the Rohingyas--and perhaps to highlight and praise the efforts Bangladesh has made to provide them with assistance,” he added.

Kugelman further said, “I see considerable continuity on Bangladesh policy with the Biden administration. If there's anything that will change, it will be Biden's greater willingness to focus public criticism on democracy concerns and human rights issues in Bangladesh”.

Zack Cooper

“I agree with you that Bangladesh deserves more attention from the U.S. foreign policy community,” he said.

“As time goes on, I hope that the United States will engage more with Bangladesh, particularly on economic issues. There are real opportunities for trade, investment, and other cooperation between our countries, so hopefully a new administration will invest more in the relationship,” Cooper said.

“This will not be the top item on the Biden team's agenda -- we have many domestic issues that require attention -- but I think a reinvigoration of American diplomacy would help provide more attention to bilateral economic cooperation,” he added.

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