Nasreen Zamir in a portrait taken earlier this year for Delano by Sven Becker
Bangladesh is a growing economy with potential, says Luxembourg's honorary consul to the south Asian country. Nasreen Zamir talks about her country’s image and the prospects of bilateral trade with the Grand Duchy.
Graceful and smart, Zamir is a lady who knows what she wants.
The freshly appointed honorary consul of Luxembourg to Bangladesh recently completed her first working visit to the Grand Duchy and came away with a view of the country that could help the nation-branding cause. “It touched me that Luxembourg is rich but thinks about the welfare and well being of people who do not have anything and are far away--that’s the biggest CSR you can think of; you really should use it. I think Luxembourg people are reliable, focused, open and warm. And I must add, they are elegant… though I don’t look at clothes, but at the mind and the intention.”
Zamir had a packed programme over four days in October, meeting with the grand duke, her Luxembourg counterpart Thierry Reisch, representatives from the ministry of foreign affairs, the ministry of the economy, the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, the university and a number of private businesses and the head of the Bangladesh Business Chamber of Commerce, Luxembourg, Roy Suhash. “It was so well coordinated; I am completely impressed. I had to be fit to manage all of it, and now it is my job to make the connections.”
Of course, Bangladesh is best known for its textile production. Its ready-made garment exports are currently worth some $28 billion, making up around 80% of the country’s export business, and the goal is to increase that to $50 billion by 2020-21. Zamir met with Cargolux to discuss the possibility of making Bangladesh a destination for the freight carrier. “But we also need to work out how much freight they can carry.” But, as Zamir explains, there is so much more to Bangladesh than the garment industry. Enjoying 6% economic growth, Bangladesh has an expanding middle class whose purchasing power has huge potential, says Zamir. The country is very keen on education, for example. At the university, Zamir met with Tonie van Dam in charge of international relations at the faculty of science, communication and technology to talk about the possibility of Bangladeshis attending the university under an exchange programme or some kind of grant and to explore the possibility of a masters programme for women.
“Bangladesh is moving towards the empowerment of women. We are a very secular country, and women play an important role in the garment industry, in teaching, banking, event management and as entrepreneurs.” The country also has a female prime minister and a number of parliamentarians are women. “Digital Bangladesh and the blue economy are top priorities for our present prime minister, Sheikh Hasina,” says Zamir.
The financial services industry is another area in which the two countries can cooperate. “I think Bangladesh can profit from Luxembourg’s knowledge,” says the honorary consul, who is already toying with the idea of creating a banking roadshow. An interior designer by profession, Zamir has a close connection to the arts and crafts industry and when she met the grand duke he suggested a showcase of the country’s unique and vibrant arts and crafts to promote Bangladesh as a tourism destination.