Dhaka, Oct 20 (bdnews24.com) – Bangladesh and Laos Saturday discussed efforts to strengthen cooperation in trade, investment and tourism at the first ever meeting between the two countries.
"We discussed how to develop our cooperation in trade, investment and tourism and increase people-to-people contact," visiting Laotian first vice-foreign minister Phongsavath Boupha told reporters after the meeting at state guesthouse Padma in Dhaka.
"We are now exploring and thinking about the sectors. We are very pleased to have exchanged ideas on how to improve relations between the two countries," Boupha said.
The discussion also focused on the import of medicines from Bangladesh, which already exports pharmaceuticals products to about 60 countries.
"If our businessmen think Bangladeshi medicines are good and not costly, we can think about importing from here," Boupha said.
Foreign secretary Touhid Hossain, who led the Bangladesh delegation to the talks, said both sides agreed in principle to ease the visa procedure and introduce on-arrival visa for officials and businesspeople.
Bangladesh established diplomatic ties with the Southeast Asian country in 1988, but neither has any embassy in respective country.
Currently, Bangladeshis need to go to New Delhi for visa.
Touhid said they agreed to set up honorary consular as a first step towards establishing missions in the two capitals.
Laos, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked communist state, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west.
After a period as a French protectorate, Laos gained independence in 1949. A long civil war ended when the communist Pathet Lao movement came to power in 1975 in a country with a diverse ethnic makeup.
Boupha narrated his country's past in the briefing. "We have been affected by the civil war. We are also in the same group as Bangladesh—as the least developed country."
Private enterprise has increased in Laos since the mid-1980s.
Laos has ranked among the lowest countries in terms of economic and political freedom.
Despite all, the economy of Laos grew at 7.2 percent in 2006, according to available data.