Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki has expressed his optimism to bring new opportunities for partnership in 2021 and beyond with significant progress in some quality infrastructure projects in Bangladesh including metro rail.
“Though the situation (Covid-19) is yet to be contained, I expect the year 2021 will bring us new opportunities for partnership beyond this difficulty,” he said, gladly sharing that Dhaka MRT Line 6 is expected to start its operation within this year.
In a video message, the Japanese Ambassador said quality infrastructure projects like Dhaka MRT, third terminal of Dhaka airport and Matarbari deep seaport are making significant progress without considerable delay.
“Japan is proud to make contributions to the future development of Bangladesh amid the difficult period caused by the pandemic,” he said.
Ambassador Naoki said they will resume and further promote people to people interactions and cultural exchanges.
From July this year, Tokyo will host the Olympics and Paralympic Games. The Ambassador said he sincerely hopes Bangladesh will uplift and show the best of their abilities and bring back first Olympic medal.
He mentioned that Bangladesh will celebrate 50 years of its Independence this year and the two countries will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations in 2022. “I would like to take these milestones to further foster bilateral relationship and friendship.”
He wished everyone a very prosperous and healthy New Year and hoped to bring the two countries even closer to each other.
The Ambassador recalled that it was unusual year and it changed everyday life completely that no one had imagined a year ago. He, however, said the bilateral relations grew stronger.
Terming Bangladesh a new frontier of economy and investment, Japanese Ambassador Naoki recently said Bangladesh will keep growing strongly beyond Covid-19 pandemic with quality infrastructure projects in place giving Bangladesh a completely different look in next three-five years.
“Within next three to five years, things will be completely different, the face of the nation will look so different and the landscape of infrastructure will be so different with the implementation of quality projects,” he told diplomatic correspondents at Jatiya Press Club.
Bangladesh has reiterated the importance of resolving outstanding bilateral issues with Pakistan, including offering of an official apology from Pakistan for the genocide it committed during Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971.
Dhaka also sought completion of the repatriation of Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh, and settling the issue of the division of assets.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam raised the issues when newly appointed High Commissioner of Pakistan to Bangladesh Imran Ahmed Siddiqui met him on Thursday.
The State Minister cordially welcomed the High Commissioner and highlighted that enhancing relations with all neighbouring countries was a foreign policy priority of the government.
“In line with that spirit, we look forward to engaging with Pakistan,” he said.
Shahriar also urged Pakistan to grant access to more Bangladeshi products by utilizing the existing SAFTA provisions, relaxing the negative list and removing trade barriers.
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The current trade balance tilts towards Pakistan.
High Commissioner Siddiqui conveyed the very best wishes of the people and the government of Pakistan to the State Minister and said he would give due diligence to advancing bilateral relations in every possible area of cooperation.
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Both sides agreed on the need to hold the long-pending Foreign Office Consultations, which was last held in 2010.
The State Minister assured the High Commissioner of all cooperation and assistance during his tenure in Dhaka.
Bangladesh has invited Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said to join the birth centenary celebrations of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of Bangladesh's Independence to be celebrated in March this year.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen extended the invitation to Oman's Sultan to visit Bangladesh during a telephone conversation with his Oman counterpart Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi on Wednesday.
Dr Momen thanked the Omani Foreign Minister recalling that Oman took care of 700,000 expatriates Bangladeshis and no one had to lose job.
He also said Oman allowed 40,000 Bangladeshis to return to their workplaces who got stuck in Bangladesh due to COVID-19 situation.
Dr Momen also mentioned that Qatar and Saudi Arabia reached an understanding with the support from Oman.
Foreign Minister Badar Al-Busaidi appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for successfully dealing with the COVID-19 situation in Bangladesh.
He said the two countries can help each other in dealing with the COVID-19 situation, including information sharing.
The Foreign Minister of Oman noted that mutual friendship between the two countries is growing and strengthening gradually.
The two Foreign Ministers also briefly talked about Rohingya crisis. Foreign Minister Badar Al-Busaidi assured Bangladesh of his country's continued support for the repatriation of Rohingyas to their place of origin in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Badar Al-Busaidi highly appreciated the role of expatriate Bangladeshis for the development of Oman.
He said the Omani government stands beside Bangladeshis during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Momen thanked the Omani government and its Foreign Minister for the overall support to expatriates Bangladeshis.
The two foreign ministers agreed to hold Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) between the two countries in the first half the year, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The two countries will discuss various bilateral issues of mutual interest in the FOC.
Dr Momen said an agreement on visa exemption for the official and diplomatic passport holders will be signed soon between the two countries.
Bangladesh will soon decide the signatory of the agreement from Bangladesh side, he said.
Oman has nominated Under Secretary of the Foreign Ministry to sign the agreements.
Dr Momen urged Oman to import jute products from Bangladesh as an alternative to polythene.
He sought Omani investment in special economic zones and infrastructure projects in Bangladesh saying the return on investment is much higher in Bangladesh compared to neighbouring countries.
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Bangladesh and Jordan have discussed ways to strengthen trade relations between the two countries.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Jordan Nahida Sobhan met Jordan's Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Maha Ali recently and discussed the bilateral issues.
Zaher Al-Qatarneh, Assistant Secretary General (equivalent to our Additional Secretary) of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Supply was present at the meeting.
Muhammad Bashir, First Secretary of the Embassy of Bangladesh in Jordan accompanied the Ambassador.
Ambassador Sobhan mentioned that there are a lot of scopes to strengthen trade relations between Bangladesh and Jordan. She added that she would work together with Jordan with this aim during her stay.
They discussed about concluding a trade agreement between the two countries.
Minister Maha Ali informed that an MoU between BCCIC of the Ministry of Industries of Bangladesh and Jordan Mine Phosphate Company (JPMC) of Jordan concluded in 2017 in the presence of the then Industries Minister of Bangladesh.
The Ambassador expressed eagerness to exchange business delegations between the two countries to explore more opportunities by both the countries.
Also read: Bangladesh, Jordan discuss convening FOC
Due to COVID19 situation it might not be possible to conduct such visits right now, she added. In this context, she proposed to begin such discussion between business communities through a webinar, where relevant business people can participate from both sides.
Such meetings could later be followed up by exchanging delegations when the global pandemic situation would be over.
She stated that the Embassy of Bangladesh is ready to facilitate such meetings.
Showing keen interest, she said that her Ministry and the Embassy could work together to prepare concept note and agenda for the webinar to make it fruitful.
The Ambassador proposed that it might take place in May 2021.
While handing over some leather goods as gift to the Minister, Ambassador Sobhan briefed the Minister about the leather industry in Bangladesh and its potentialities.
She mentioned that currently, Bangladesh is 8th largest global exporter of leather products and leather.
In addition to the skilled labour for RMG sector, Bangladesh also has skilled workers for leather industries, she then supplemented.
Both the Ambassador and the Minister also praised women’s empowerment in their respective countries.
Indian Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday said the Indian government did not impose any ban on the export of Covid-19 vaccines being manufactured in the country.
“The Union government has not banned the export of any of the Covid-19 vaccines. That is something which should be absolutely clear," he said in a media briefing requesting journalists to remain guarded against the spread of misinformation.
The Indian Health Secretary referred the Union Government to mean the ministry of health and family welfare, ministry of commerce, the department for promotion of industry and internal trade, directorate general of foreign trade of India.
These are the departments which can ban the export of vaccines in any hypothetical situation. But these departments have not taken any action regarding this, the secretary pointed out.
"Therefore, this is my earnest request to media friends that we should be on guard when such misinformation is sought to be spread,” Rajesh Bhushan said.
Referring to a joint statement issued by the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, the Health Secretary said among other things, the statement said vaccines are a global public health good and that the companies are considering it as their duty to the nation and the world at large.
"So what does it mean? It means that neither the government and nor the vaccine makers are talking about any ban," the Hindustan Times quoted the Health Secretary as saying.
The Associated Press on Sunday quoted Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla as saying that the government has asked the world’s largest vaccine maker to not export vaccines to any other country for several months.
Serum Institute earlier signed eals to supply millions of doses of vaccines to Bangladesh, global vaccine alliance Gavi etc.
Also read: India bars company from exporting vaccines