Dhaka, Bangladesh
Push for pursuing economic diplomacy

Push for pursuing economic diplomacy

PM shows envoys at London meet which way to tread

News Desk: Economics dominates both internal politics and international relations of nations at present as the world moves fast to cope with newer innovations. Many concerns of yesteryear are being swept away by the speed. The Government of Bangladesh obviously rises to the occasion for a reorientation of its foreign relations along the line of trade and investment promotion in order to advance the country's graduation process and lift all-round development in pursuant of the UN-mandated development goals-Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. Indication of such urgency for the change came from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's prodding to the Bangladesh envoys at a London meet, where she advised them to pursue economic diplomacy alongside political diplomacy. The corollary of economic diplomacy consists of trade and investment-away from the past tradition of tapping aid from foreign donors at 'Paris Consortium' used to be held annually for bankrolling Bangladesh's development recipe. Trade involves merchandise and services exports. Services exports may be done by sending skilled manpower for different professions and also by way of outsourcing in IT-based works and innovations from home in this age of high technology, especially information communication technology or ICT. Experts are of the opinion that the Bangladesh missions abroad can promote the domestic economy principally in three ways: (a) they themselves explore markets of the countries they are posted in, particularly by efficient use of their commercial wing (b) help businesses in trading and aiding trade delegations in exploring and exploiting markets and (c) extending all-out services to the manpower recruited and employed in various services abroad. The prime minister's instructional speech to the diplomats at the London meet Saturday implies such directions for them to pursue in the new paradigm of economic diplomacy. "We need to focus more on economic issues besides political diplomacy so the ongoing development in Bangladesh continues," PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, while briefing reporters after the conference, quoted her as saying. She simultaneously asked them to put in their efforts to attract more investment in to the country, boost trade and commercial relations and enhance Bangladesh's image further in Europe. The premier said at the same time the envoys would have to provide better and faster services to expatriate Bangladeshis living in different countries. A total of 15 ambassadors, high commissioners and permanent representatives posted in different European countries attended the 'Envoys' Conference', first of its kind. Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen also spoke on the occasion while State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Nojibur Rahman and Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque were present. At the meet, the Prime Minister held discussions with the Bangladeshi envoys on various issues and gave them necessary directives. Rohingya issue and migration as well as the celebration of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh's independence were also discussed. Referring to the fast-changing world, Sheikh Hasina advised the diplomats to take effective and time-befitting action plan for establishing deeper and broader relations with foreign countries. "To this effect, we need to explore opportunities for enhancing investment, trade and skilled manpower export in countries, particularly in the European states," the Prime Minister said. She mentioned that Bangladesh now has a very big and skilled youth force who can meet the demand of global job markets. Referring to government's various initiatives for building a skilled workforce, she said they had already introduced apps for helping people learn nine different languages. She suggested that the envoys assess the markets of their respective countries of assignment and identify the barriers to bolster economic ties. The Prime Minister said her government is working with specific target of making Bangladesh a developed nation by 2041 and asked the diplomats to draw their own specific targets in line with the goal. She also advised the envoys to provide better and faster services to expatriate Bangladeshis. "We've already attained over 8 percent GDP growth and put a target of 8.12 percent GDP growth for the current 2019-20 financial year," she said, adding that the per-capita income will reach $2,000 in 2020. Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is no more dependent on aid and is sourcing over 90 percent of Tk 523,190-crore national budget from its own resources. However, the Prime Minster noted that some groups, including those who failed in the elections, are carrying out propaganda against Bangladesh to halt the country's ongoing development drive. In particular, she named BNP that raised questions against the last general election after doing "election business" instead of meaningfully participating in it. The Awami League chief said people in Bangladesh no more believe in propaganda, instead they put their faith on the socioeconomic development efforts and achievement of the AL government. About the foreign policy enunciated by the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Prime Minister said the policy focus is 'friendship to all, malice to none' which put Bangladesh in a prestigious position on the global stage. She said following the policy, Bangladesh solved many contentious issues, including transfer of enclaves with India, through diplomatic dialogues. "Similarly, we hope the Rohingya issue will also be solved through discussions," she told the diplomats. Pointing to the geographical position of Bangladesh, she said the country could be the bridge between the East and the West. The envoys who attended the conference are Abu Zafar (Austria), Mohammed Shahdat Hossain (Belgium), Muhammad Abdul Muhith (Denmark), Kazi Imtiaz Hossain (France), Imtiaz Ahmed (Germany), Jashim Uddin (Greece), Abdus Sobhan Sikder (Italy), Sheikh Mohammed Belal (Netherlands), Muhammad Mahfuzur Rahman (Poland), Ruhul Alam Siddique (Portugal), Dr SM Saiful Hoque (Russian Federation), Hassan Mahmood Khandker (Spain), Nazmul Islam (Sweden), Shameem Ahsan (Switzerland) and Saida Muna Tasneem (United Kingdom). At the conference each of the envoys made separate presentation on the activities, challenges and future plans of action for their respective countries of assignment. (Inputs taken from agencies, media reports)

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