THE Bangladeshi and Philippine governments have named Cebuano entrepreneur Virgilio “Nonoy” Espeleta as an Honorary Consul General of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in the Visayas.

During his installation on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Espeleta, who served as president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and business mentor of the Kapatid Mentor Me Program of Go Negosyo, pledged to strengthen the economic and cultural relations between Bangladesh and Cebu.

His installment also came timely as Bangladesh celebrates its 50 years of independence from Pakistan after the 1971 Liberation War.

The office of the Honorary Consulate General of Bangladesh in Visayas was also inaugurated on the same day inside the Advent Business Center on Acacia St., Cebu City.

“This was not planned, not in my bucket list. But I believe God has set this up like in many situations where you are most needed to do bigger tasks for the bigger community and for the people. God has a way of calling me,” said Espeleta during his inaugural speech at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Espeleta also sits as the chairman of the Economic Development Committee of the Regional Development Council in Central Visayas. He is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Famcor Franchise Management and Executive Development Corp.

“We cordially welcome you in our team and hope that you would be instrumental in helping our expats, diaspora, promoting our trade and culture in the region, and attracting Filipino investments in Bangladesh from your region. We hope to work together to further deepen the bond and friendship between our two great countries,” said Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines Asad Alam Siam.

Bangladesh has a current population of 166.5 million. About two million young people enter the labor force every year.

Its economy grew 8.4 percent in 2019 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ready-made garments contribute 80 percent of its export earnings.

There are nearly a thousand Bangladeshis in the Philippines.

According to Espeleta, he will function not just as the “go-to guy” of Bangladeshis in the Philippines, specifically in the Visayas. He promised to help the two nations in terms of advancing their economic and cultural ties and venture in more cooperation in various areas.

Business opportunities

In particular, Espeleta encouraged the Cebuano business community to explore Bangladesh and forge business alliances in key industries like textiles and garments, information and communications technology, shipbuilding and shipbreaking, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, furniture, ceramics, and leather and leather goods.

The newly minted diplomat also hoped to see an increase in tourism foot traffic for both countries as soon as closed borders of global tourism are lifted.

“There are a lot of opportunities to explore in Bangladesh,” said Espeleta, adding that he plans to initially link the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry with Cebu’s business chambers.

Industrial manufactures like chemicals, construction materials, machineries/transport equipment/apparatus and parts, metal manufactures and electronics account for the major export by the Philippines to Bangladesh, followed by resource-based products like textile yarns, twine and cordages, mineral products, and other resource-based commodities, consumer manufactures like fashion accessories and other consumer manufactures like paper and other paper products, cosmetics and personal care and household products, and food and food preparations.

Economic growth in Bangladesh placed increasing demand for utility vehicles, construction materials, computers, household appliances, farm machinery, automobile spare parts, house ware and other products from the Philippines. (KOC)