Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has indicated that Bangladesh and Cambodia may sign a free trade agreement in an attempt to expand trade cooperation between the two countries.
The foreign minister made the remarks at a press conference covering details of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in New York on Wednesday night.
“Bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and Cambodia was discussed at the meeting,” Momen said.
“To deepen trade cooperation with Cambodia, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed a free trade agreement and the Cambodian prime minister agreed with the idea.”
The Cambodian premier, in his position as ASEAN chair, assured Hasina that the organisation would continue its efforts to find a solution to the Rohingya crisis.
“The Cambodian prime minister also expressed interest in exporting rice from Cambodia to Bangladesh,” Momen said. “He also invited Bangladesh to invest in agriculture and the development of physical infrastructure in Cambodia.”
“Cambodia has a lot of free land with favourable weather. There is sufficient rain and rivers as well. They have been encouraging Bangladeshi businesses to buy land in the country for some time. They can grow crops on that land and sell the produce in Cambodia and Bangladesh too. They will give us that opportunity.”
Many Bangladeshi expatriates reside in Cambodia, Momen said.
“They are employed in various types of construction work and the IT sector.”
Hun Sen also praised Bangladesh extensively for building the Padma Bridge with its own money.
“The Cambodian prime minister said they had also planned to build many bridges, but were unable to due to COVID,” the foreign minister said.
“Our honourable prime minister told him that we had people experienced with bridge construction and that we could send them to Cambodia to conduct training if her counterpart wanted to.”
Momen also detailed Hasina’s meetings on the third day of her trip to the US.
The prime minister met with Antonio Vitorino, the director general of the International Organization for Migration.
Hasina told him that the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine were creating challenges for those countries sending workers abroad. The IOM can support these countries by making effective recommendations to addressing these challenges, she said.
The prime minister also thanked the IOM for their cooperation in bringing victims of trafficking back to Bangladesh from countries such as Libya and those in the European Union.
Vitorino expressed his appreciation to Bangladesh for the steps it had taken to ensure the welfare of migrants and hoped that the country would expand its areas of cooperation with Bangladesh in the future.
Afterwards, Hasina met with Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, the president of Kosovo. Bilateral issues between the two nations were discussed at the meeting.
Hasina also met with representatives from the Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council for discussions.
WHAT WILL HASINA DISCUSS IN UN SPEECH?
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will stress multilateral relationships between the member countries at the United Nations to find ways to ward off ongoing conflicts throughout the world, according to Foreign Minister Momen.
The prime minister will address the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in Bangla on Friday.
Momen briefed the media about the topics that are likely to be highlighted in the prime minister’s address at the UN in the current global context.
“The prime minister will urge the world leaders to establish peace and stability throughout the world,” the foreign minister said.
“We want to focus on multilateral relationships to establish peace. Discussion among the member countries and peaceful solutions are the only ways to ward off conflicts.”
The prime minister will emphasise the coronavirus pandemic, development efforts undertaken in Bangladesh and climate change, Momen said.
“We believe the world must be saved and we must not raise the global temperature in order to do so.”
Hasina will call on global leaders to step up efforts to meet the goals set under the Paris Agreement with a reminder of the $100 million fund pledged every year to the member countries.
Bangladesh expects the groups responsible for the problems tied to climate change will equally share responsibility for the rehabilitation of the affected. The prime minister will emphasise that issue as well, Momen said.
The distribution of houses among the poor and homeless people under the Ashrayan Project and Bangladesh’s success in the COVID-19 fight, and its economic progress are among the other issues that she will cover at the session, he added.