In a joint statement issued on Thursday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Maldives President Solih noted that the Maldives and Bangladesh enjoy a traditionally and historically close relationship and that both countries share common attributes through their values, faith, and traditions.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina flew to the Maldives on Wednesday for a six-day visit. She sat with President Solih for bilateral talks on Thursday. New agreements were also signed between the two countries in taxation and cooperation in health, education, youth and sports.
President Solih commended Bangladesh for the significant progress made in economic, social, and political areas and highlighted efforts that led Bangladesh to qualify to graduate from the United Nations’ list of Least Developed Countries to Developing Country status.
He noted the donation of military vehicles, the collaboration on the health front, and increased opportunities for higher education, vocational training, and skills development for Maldivian students in Bangladesh.
The bilateral cooperation between the two countries will only strengthen in the future, he said.
Reflecting on their official talks, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina noted that direct air connectivity between the two countries has been enhanced in the hopes of improving people-to-people contact and cooperation tourism.
She announced her government’s decision to facilitate visas on arrival for Maldivian nationals in the context of the improved situation in the current pandemic and facilitating long-term student visas for Maldivian students in Bangladesh.
President Solih and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reaffirmed their commitment to work together at the United Nations and other multilateral fora and expressed their readiness to advance constructive engagement in all spheres.
AGREEMENT NEEDED TO ENHANCE BANGLADESH, MALDIVES BILATERAL TRADE: HASINA
A preferential trade agreement between Bangladesh and Maldives is needed to enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Despite opportunities, the two countries have yet to fully tap the potentials of bilateral trade and investment, the prime minister said in her speech at Male, during her first bilateral state visit to the Maldives.
“With its growing manufacturing capacity, Bangladesh would be able to supply many quality products to the Maldives at a competitive price. I re-emphasise the necessity of a preferential trade agreement between the two countries and a bilateral investment protection arrangement for mutual facilitation of investment.”
Hasina said the two leaders have discussed the regularisation of undocumented Bangladeshi nationals whose contributions to both the economies are substantial, as the welfare of people is one of their priorities.
They also discussed cooperation in multilateral fora, support for each other’s candidatures at various regional and multilateral fora and cooperation in countering terrorism, and agreed to work together to face the challenge of climate change and early repatriation of forcibly displaced Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, Hasina said.
The two leaders agreed to strengthen the bilateral cooperation especially in the sectors of health, education and human resources development, youth and sports, fisheries and agriculture.
“It is a matter of great satisfaction that Bangladesh accepted the proposal for recruiting health professionals from Bangladesh and opportunities for specialised post-graduation medical courses for Maldivian students.”
Hasina highlighted that direct air connectivity between Bangladesh and Maldives has been enhanced through the commencement of flights by Bangladeshi airlines US-Bangla.
National carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines is planning to introduce Dhaka-Male flights, she said.
“We hope, with direct flights, people-to-people contacts and exchange of tourism cooperation will increase,” Hasina said, adding that both leaders have reviewed the possibility of establishing a direct shipping line.
Calling their discussion ‘very fruitful’ on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, Hasina said they reviewed the progress made so far on earlier decisions and found the outcome satisfactory.
“Following the official talks, we witnessed the signing of some bilateral instruments. We also witnessed the handing over of 13 military vehicles by the Bangladesh government to the Maldives government, as a goodwill gesture.”
“As Bangladesh completes its first half-century journey as an independent nation and looks ahead to transform itself into a modern, prosperous and developed economy by 2041, fulfilling the vision of our Father of the Nation for a Sonar Bangla or Golden Bengal, we look forward to partnering with the Maldives in the areas of our commonalities for the benefit of our peoples,” she said.