The European Union will offer Bangladesh 350 million euros in technical aid over the next five years in addition to the one billion euros it has committed to support development, a senior EU official said on Wednesday.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy told a news conference the technical assistance amount included 50m euros for product diversification and exports.

On Tuesday, the European Union announced a grant of one billion euros for Bangladesh over the next five years between 2002 and 2006.

Lamy said the EU would send a mission to Dhaka in January to assess how the European Commission could help Bangladesh in the short term.

He urged Bangladesh to expand its product mix for exports to ensure it did not have to rely only on garments to earn foreign exchange.

“There is a heavy tilting of Bangladesh exports to ready-made garments, which represent 75 per cent of the country’s total exports to the EU. It is this export which has now hit very rough waters,” Lamy said.

Bangladesh’s economy is largely dependent on exports of readymade garments, mostly to the United States and Europe, which have substantially declined following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

“EU strongly suggests (Bangladesh) to diversify its products, otherwise in future the country may not sustain its development efforts if there is any global economic shock as happened after 11th September,” Lamy said.