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     Volume 6 Issue 4 | February 2, 2007 |

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The French Connection
France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Imran H. Khan
His Excellency Jacques-André Costhiles, Ambassador of France and Chief Patron of CCIFB.

Mention anything with a French twist, be it artistic or linguistic, most people get mental pictures of a building in Dhanmondi, home of Alliance Francais. After all it's been there for almost half a century. More recently the France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCIFB) has improved the highway to the French connection. Formed in 1996 with just 35 members, CCIFB has now grown to over 100 members. Working in close collaboration with the French Embassy, this Chamber plays a significant role in developing trade between France and Bangladesh.

The present committee is headed by its President Syed Farhad Ahmed with His Excellency Andre Costhiles as the Chief Patron of the Chamber. The Chamber is managed by its Director, Dr. Rifat Rashid and a 19 member Executive Committee, who run the Chamber for a two-year term.

CCIFB is currently involved in activities such as organising trade delegations from Bangladesh abroad, arranging French delegations to Bangladesh, hosting business luncheon meetings, facilitating Bangladesh companies to attend trade fairs in France and assisting French companies to locate Bangladesh companies for agency or for distributorship.

France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry has enabled trade between the two countries for 10 years.

With the joint effort of the French Economic Department and the Chamber, the trade value between Bangladesh and France crossed $1 billion during the first 10 months of 2006. Exports of France to Bangladesh during this period reached 100.5 million dollars, a growth of 60 percent over the corresponding period in the previous year. Bangladesh's exports to France also amounted to an astounding 911.2 million dollars, with a 25 percent growth over previous times.

France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry recently

arranged a 12-member business delegation from Bangladesh to meet French companies in New Delhi. The event titled "France-India Forum 2006" was organised with the collaboration of the Economic Department of the French Embassy in Dhaka. It was held from 3-8 December 2006 with 225 French companies attending the gala.


Scenes from the "Soiree de Gala", an annual event of the CCIFB.

The main event was divided into two parts: French companies in multi sectors and an International exhibition of Agro food products. In the first part, Business to Business (B-to-B) meetings were held with Indian companies and its neighbouring delegates Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The companies discussed prospects with the French companies in sectors such as Information Technology (IT), Pharmaceutical, Transport and Logistics, Service, Chemicals, etc. The French Ambassador to India, His Excellency Dominique Girard held a cocktail reception followed by a cultural show on December 4, 2006, for all the foreign participants. Members of the Bangladesh delegation met Christine Lagarde, Minister for Foreign Trade of France at the reception. Both the sides discussed the potentials of developing more business with France and Bangladesh. The Director of UBI France, Louis-Michel Morris had a meeting with the CCIFB President Syed Farhad Ahmed, Director Dr. Rifat Rashid, Trade Commissioner Dominique Simon and Deputy Trade Commissioner Sophie Clavelier-Khan and discussed possibilities of a similar event in Bangladesh in 2007. On the last two days of the event, the International Exhibition of Food and Agro Industry was held with exhibitors from France, Italy, UK, USA, Spain, Turkey, India, etc. The Bangladesh delegation had the opportunity to have B-to-B meetings with the French companies as well as many other nations.

The Bangladeshi delegates not only took this opportunity to market their products and services on a B-to-B basis but also advertised their own potential to the French Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). About 200 brochures and CDs in French about the key indicators of Bangladesh as well as information on the Bangladeshi delegates were distributed to the French companies. Direct contact with French companies enabled the Bangladeshi delegates to discuss business and services, which Bangladesh has to offer. This also helped in enhancing the image of Bangladesh.

Director of France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dr. Rifat Rashid was quite hopeful about hosting such an event in Bangladesh. “We have already made a proposal to hold such an even in Dhaka,” she said. “Even if it not on a grand scale, we wish to have a similar event here. We would like to concentrate in sectors that has interest to us such as IT, Pharmaceuticals, Agro-culture, etc.”

Members of the Bangladesh delegation with Her Excellency Christine Lagarde, the French Minister for Foreign Trade at the reception of French Ambassador to India.

The year 2006 ended with CCIFB's “Soiree de Gala,” an annual event for its members, consisting of the French companies based here and the Bangladeshi companies with French collaboration. The gala (2006) was spon-sored by Texas Group of Companies, GEC Bangladesh Ltd., Lafarge Surma Cement Ltd., SQ Group, Square Group of Companies, ECM Services Ltd. and Energypac. The event was a unique evening with a concoction French and Bangladeshi ambience; French food, Bangali cultural show, classical music, French Jazz and ballet and much more. This year's cultural festivities consisted of Rabindranath Tagore's 'Bhanushingher Padaboli' as well as a ballet performance by French star ballet artist Kader Belarbi, brought in from 'Opera de Paris'.

Bangladesh and France, both rich in culture and entertainment, have a lot to offer to each other. The bond is enriched when the two cultures meet and this is what the Chamber offers not just in its “Soirees” once a year but in the dedicated work it does all over the year. While the soiree offers social and cultural entertainment for the evening, the CCIFB in its role of facilitator between Bangladesh and France, is helping to make trade easier for its members while bringing in a rich assortment of entertainment and culture from both the countries.

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