U.S. Embassy Chargé Wagner Affirms Interest In Port Expansion, Discusses Challenges, Opportunities With Business Women Role Models

DHAKA, December 14, 2020 – U.S. Chargé d’Affaires JoAnne Wagner and Embassy colleagues traveled to Chattogram Sunday and Monday, December 13-14, to support the robust economic partnership between the United States and Bangladesh.  Chargé Wagner discussed expansion plans for the Port of Chittagong, including opportunities for participation by U.S. companies; engaged with female entrepreneurs pursuing successful businesses and overcoming gender discrimination; and explored further opportunities with the operators of Pahartali Textile and Hosiery Mills for using U.S.-grown cotton.

The United States is interested in development plans for the Port of Chittagong due to its role as gatekeeper for Bangladesh’s export economy, Chargé Wagner told Port Chairman Admiral SM Abul Kalam Azad.  During the meeting the Chargé said the U.S. Trade and Development Agency is eager to support infrastructure projects in high-growth emerging markets such as Bangladesh with feasibility studies, technical assistance, and pilot projects.  U.S. companies are ready to provide expertise and systems, including those to reduce congestion and boost efficiency.

Successfully operating any business is difficult, even more so when faced with additional challenges due to the operator’s gender, members of the Chittagong Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry told the Charge during a roundtable discussion.  During the meeting, the entrepreneurs shared methods they use to overcome discrimination and promote and grow their businesses.  They noted the growing contribution women business owners and operators make to the Bangladesh economy.

“I was impressed by the innovative and committed women of the Chittagong Women Chamber of Commerce and encouraged by the example they set for so many aspiring female entrepreneurs,” said Chargé Wagner.  The U.S. is committed to partnering with Bangladesh to promote inclusive economic prosperity and help create the conditions to encourage economic growth by traditionally underrepresented groups, including women.

Pahartali Textile and Hosiery Mills, a unit of Ispahani Limited, is one of the pioneer textile mills of Bangladesh.  With Mirza Salman Ispahani, Chairman of Ispahani Limited, Chargé Wagner discussed further opportunities for using U.S.-grown cotton to produce yarns for the knit and woven industries in Bangladesh.  She noted the mill demonstrates how quality imports from the United States can support the export economy of Bangladesh.