Dhaka, Apr 13 (UNB) - Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das on Saturday said increasing linkages between the media of India and Bangladesh is an important element in overall growth of bilateral relations between the two countries.
Speaking at an event titled ‘Connections 2019’ arranged by Indian Institution of Mass Communication (IIMC) Alumni Association at the Jatiya Press Club, she also spoke about Indian government’s initiatives to help Bangladeshi students.
“Media plays an important role in highlighting the immense potential and opportunities that exist for all the stakeholders,” the Indian envoy said.
She also said the IIMC Alumni Association can play a vital role to take the ties to a new height.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said the friendship that exists between Bangladesh and India is deepening day by day. “I want to hold the friendship between Bangladesh and India as an example to the world on how good the relations between neighbouring countries can be,” he said.
He also spoke about Bhutan-Bangladesh relations, saying, “It’s also our neighbouring country. They want to use some of our land ports.”
The state minister expressed the hope that India will help maintain the friendly relations between Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Zahid Newaz Khan, General Secretary of IIMC Alumni Association, Bangladesh said, “Bangladeshis who have graduated from IIMC are among the top journalists in the country. It’s something we are proud of.”
IIMC Alumni Association Bangladesh President Ihsanul Karim and IIMC Central Alumni President Prasad Sanyal also spoke at the event.
Dhaka, Apr 13 (UNB) – Bangladesh and Bhutan on Saturday agreed in principle to work on duty- and quota-free access of a number of goods of the two counties to each other’s market for mutual benefits.
The issue was discussed at the official bilateral meeting held between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Bhutanese counterpart Dr Lotay Tshering.
Bhutan sought duty- and quota-free access of 16 products, while Bangladesh sought that of its 10 items, said Foreign Senior Secretary M Shahidul Haque while briefing reporters after the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office.
“Bhutan sought the duty-and quota-free access of 16 goods to Bangladesh market. Our Prime Minister said she'll consider it. It's expected that it’ll happen,” he said.
“There were positive discussions on it (the duty- and quota-free access of Bhutanese goods) at the meeting. Our Prime Minister said the duty-and quota-free access of our 10 products will be negotiated. Now, we assume both sides have agreed in principle on it. Now, it has to be worked out at the technical level,” the Foreign Secretary added.
At the hour-long official meeting, Sheikh Hasina led the Bangladesh team, while Dr Lotay Tshering the Bhutanese side.
The Foreign Secretary said the two sides put emphasis on strengthening cooperation on trade, business and connectivity.
Bangladesh has a historical relation with Bhutan as it was the first country to recognise Bangladesh as an independent country on December 6 in 1971, he said.
Over the years, this relationship has developed from strength to strength, the Foreign Secretary said adding that the trade figures and people-to-people contact in tourism sector of the two countries have increased, particularly after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Bhutan (in 2017).
Shahidul Haque said the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative was also discussed at the meeting.
Though all the countries signed the BBIN initiative, Bhutan is yet to place any proposal to ratify the initiative of sub-regional connectivity in South Asia.
At the bilateral talks, it was said the new Bhutanese government will place a fresh bill in their upper house of parliament in this regard. “They’re very optimistic about it,” the Foreign Secretary said.
He said Bhutan also showed interest to hire Bangladeshi specialist doctors to meet up demand of such physicians to improve its health sector.
In this connection, the Prime Minister said she will personally look into the matter.
Pointing out that the cooperation between the two countries in the field of health sector is increasing, the Foreign Secretary said the number of seats for Bhutanese students in Bangladesh medical and nursing colleges have risen to 15 from 10 ones.
Dr Lotay Tshering, who was student of Mymensingh Medical College in Bangladesh, highly appreciated Bangladesh's pharmaceutical industry for producing quality drugs, said the Foreign Secretary.
He said the two sides discussed the regional electricity trade.
Haque said discussions are underway to produce hydropower in Bhutan and marketing that in the region.
The Prime Minister mentioned that Bangladesh is going to invest in hydroelectricity in Bhutan. "The discussion is at the advanced stage, and we hope an agreement to this end will be signed soon," Haque said.
The Foreign Secretary said there will be trilateral cooperation, and if hydroelectricity is produced in Bhutan, it will be marketed in India and Bangladesh.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister also highly praised the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Mentioning the significant role of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the development of this region, Dr Lotay Tshering said Bhutan has deep respect in her leadership.
About autism awareness campaign, the Bhutanese Prime Minister noted that Saima Wazed Hossain, the daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has made huge contributions to it, the Foreign Secretary said.
Dhaka, Apr 12 (UNB) – Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday said US entrepreneurs are very keen to invest in Bangladesh’s energy sector which has huge potential.
“Americans are very keen to invest in the energy (sector) and they told me that General Electric Company is coming here with a huge investment offer,” he said.
Dr Momen who recently visited the USA and had talks with many high officials, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, came up with the remarks while talking to reporters after a meeting with Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering at a city hotel.
The minister said he told the US officials that Bangladesh always encourages the diversity of investment and trade.
About his meeting with the US Secretary of State in Washington DC on April 8, Dr Momen said it was very fruitful where they talked about how to make Bangladesh’s current pace of development sustainable.
He said he urged Mike Pompeo to encourage his country’s businessmen to invest in Bangladesh’s marine area to explore mineral resources, including gas, using their sophisticated technology.
As per variety of estimates, Dr Momen said, he told Mike Pompeo that there are 34 to 50 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Bangladesh sea area. “We don’t have experts and technology to find it. Your companies should come here with investment and get the gas.”
“I also told him that our economy is about to take off and it’s time for you to join us. If you don’t join us now, you’ll lose the market. If your guys want to make money, they should come to Bangladesh right now. Or else, they’ll lose the boat,” Dr Momen said.
He also suggested Mike Pompeo that his country can increase cotton export to Bangladesh by offering duty -and quota -free access to RMG factories which buy their cotton. “Bangladesh is one of the leading cotton importers in the world since it has a huge apparel sector. You can sell cotton to us at an affordable price,” the minister said, adding that Mike Pompeo liked the idea.
As they have fear about 'One Belt, One Road' initiative, Dr Momen said, he told them to come here under the Indo-Pacific Business Forum and develop Bangladesh’s capacity and infrastructure. “You’ll be winner and we’ll also be winner.”
Replying to a question, he said Bangladesh wants to maintain a balanced relation with the USA and China.
About the Rohingya issue, the minister said the US Secretary of State said his country is always with Bangladesh and will continue to support the country to find a permanent solution to the crisis.
Dhaka, Apr 12 (UNB) – Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Friday said Bhutan is positive about implementing the stalled BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) in a regulated way balancing the environment.
“Bhutan is examining the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement for regional connectivity. They said they've formed a study committee to find a way to have the agreement signed,” he said.
Talking to reporters after a meeting with Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering at a city hotel, the minister further said, “I told them to do it in a regulated way by balancing the environment. They’re very positive about it.”
Since the BBIN MVA was signed on June 15, 2015, Bangladesh, India and Nepal ratified the agreement while Bhutan halted it. Though the lower house of the country endorsed the agreement, its upper house refrained from ratifying it fearing environmental impact on the country due to increased traffic of heavy-duty vehicles.
Mentioning that Bangladesh has road-water-railway connectivity with India, Dr Momen said he told the Bhutanese Prime Minister that his country put a block on road connectivity raising concern about pollution. “We suggested that they allow the connectivity as it’ll increase people-people connection.”
The minister said he also offered Bhutan to use Bangladesh’s ports and roads. “If they do it, they’ll be benefited and able to ensure the supply of goods for their consumers at competitive and affordable prices. They’re also very positive about it.”
He said the Bhutanese Prime Minister viewed that BBIN’s trading is very weak and it is not possible to intensify the forum without cooperation from all.
Dr Momen said he also offered the Bhutanese Prime Minister to use Saidpur Airport in Bangladesh as the government is going to expand it. “I told him (Tshering) that we’re making a big aviation hub there and there’s a scope for you (Bhutan) to use it.”
The minister said he also told the Bhutanese Prime Minister that Bangladesh is keen to import hydropower from their country. “We should finalise an agreement in this regard as early possible.”
He said the Bhutanese Prime Minister showed interest to recruit Bangladeshi doctors to work in Bhutan.
The minister said Bhutan will offer a special package to hire Bangladeshi specialised doctors to their country.
Dr Momen said he warmly welcomed the Bhutanese Prime Minister as he and his foreign minister are former students of Bangladeshi medical colleges. “I told them ‘you’re most welcome in your second home’.”
Earlier in the morning, Tshering arrived here on a three-day official visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Bhutanese Prime Minister, leading a 20-member high-powered delegation, was received by Sheikh Hasina at the VVIP tarmac of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and was accorded a 19-gun salute.
Soon after his arrival, the visiting Prime Minister paid his respects to the Liberation War martyrs at the National Mausoleum at Savar and to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmonid.
The two Prime Ministers will hold official talks on Saturday. It is expected that five Memoranda of Understanding will be signed by both sides paving the way for strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the areas of health, agriculture, shipping, tourism and public administration training.
Also on Saturday, the Bhutanese Prime Minister will meet President Abdul Hamid and join a banquet hosted in his honour by the Prime Minister.
Dhaka, Apr 12 (UNB) - Despite strong growth momentum in the economy, Bangladesh should think twice before taking on big foreign loans, according to Dr Richard L Benkin, a noted US scholar and human rights activist.
He was delivering the keynote address at a seminar, titled “Debt Trap Diplomacy & Regional Threat’ organised by The Asian Age at a city hotel on Friday.
Dr Benkin stated, “Bangladesh saw a jaw-dropping 7.86 percent GDP growth last year and it is expected that GDP will grow a record-setting 8.13 percent this fiscal year. It will soon graduate from Least Developed Country (LDC) status. But the country should be careful about getting involved with ambitious mega projects like China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative as it may ultimately become a trap.”
Syed Badrul Ahsan, Editor-in-Charge of The Asian Age, delivered the welcome speech at the program, which was moderated by The Asian Age Advisory Editor Major General (Retd) M Shamim Chowdhury.
Syed Marghub Murshed, Chairperson, Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) and former secretary, agreed that third world countries like Bangladesh should be cautious about getting involved in such mega projects as OBOR.
Professor Ataur Rahman, Chairman, Centre for Governance Studies (CGS), was critical of the position spelt out in the keynote paper. “We need huge foreign investments in infrastructure sector,” he noted and added that China’s interest in investing in Bangladesh would help the country implement its development plans.
On the other hand, he said, the level of US investment in Bangladesh is little. “For this reason, we shouldn’t avoid China. And of course we have to ensure a proper utilization of loans from our development partners,” he asserted.
BM Mozammel Haque, organizing secretary of the ruling Awami League, in his comments said, “We need assistance from our development partners with a view to advancing our development activities. Though China opposed Bangladesh during the Liberation War in 1971, it is now providing assistance to Dhaka in the development of its infrastructure.”
“We want to make a prosperous Bangladesh with assistance from all development partners,” he further said.
Among others who spoke at the seminar were Abdul Haque, Honorary Consul of Djibouti in Dhaka, Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury, former Mayor of Chittagong City Corporation, Faruk Ahmed, President, Bangladesh Journalists' Foundation for Consumers & Investors (BJFCI), Sanjida Farhana, Lecturer, Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), and Rafia Rowshan Khan, Program Associate, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
Delivering the vote of thanks, M Shoeb Chowdhury, Chairman of The Asian Age editorial board, said, “When we were struggling against the Pakistani occupation forces, the US and China opposed Bangladesh. But now both countries are providing us with assistance in order for us to carry out our development works.”
He stated, however, that Bangladesh needs to be wary about accepting big loans for mega projects from China given the experience of such countries as Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Malaysia.